Once wireless technology reaches puppetry, marionettes will experience life uncomplicated by being tangled up with other puppets or strung up to a tree at children's birthday parties. Enjoy old-school puppetry with today's Groupon: for $14, you get two adult and two children's tickets (a $28 value) to the Great Arizona Puppet Theater. Proudly bearing the thread of puppetry since 1983, and recognized in 2005 for its children's programming by the Phoenix New Times, the Great Arizona Puppet Theater features a repertoire of more than 50 exuberant shows, both original and adapted to the medium. Current and upcoming performances include classic fairytales such as a punchy rendition of Rumpelstiltskin, international pieces such as Kathputli featuring Rajasthani marionettes, and educational stories like that of Canyon Condor, in which an avian native of the Grand Canyon intersperses family tales with a compelling ecological history of string. Gather the family for an outing to a beautifully restored colonial-revival building from the 1930s, plucked from the brink of demolition by these dedicated string pullers.
The Arizona Republic and Associated Content featured the Great Arizona Puppet Theater, and Phoenix New Times named it the Best Downtown Building to Poke Your Head Into—2007. Four Insider Pagers give it a four-star average, and three lilaguide reviewers give a 4.5-star average.
Great Arizona Puppet Theater
Demonstrating inventive takes on old myths is par for the course at Great Arizona Puppet Theater, whose adaptation of Cinderella won the 2010 UNIMA-USA Citation of Excellence in puppetry. Behind the scenes, professional puppeteers guide the characters through kid-friendly narratives, both ancient and original. Their performances often include a timely moral that parents can discuss with children with the help of accompanying study guides, which encourage guests to analyze themes and ask questions such as "how can puppets talk if they have no brains?"
The puppet masters have more than 50 tales in their collective memory. They perform them in the historical, hand-painted theater space five days a week, as well as at area schools and functions. By crafting scripts that address Arizonian themes, including the conservation of endangered condors and figures in Native American folklore, they hope to educate and engage their young spectators. Guests can interact with the stories even further by adopting puppets from the onsite gift shop or by attending a private party, where they create their own hand puppets out of paper bags. Additionally, seasonal adult shows prove that puppetry can be as edgy as any other art form.