You are taking a leisurely hike through the desert of Arizona. Suddenly, an audible “gasp” escapes your lungs as your eyes settle on a horrifying site of mayhem and carnage—no, not that dead steer! I refer to the lazy tumbleweed of blue fur that has encased another wandering puppet within its thorny tomb. Okay, maybe THAT is a tad dramatic…but so are the All Puppet Players! CALLING ALL AFECTIONADOS OF FUR! Owner/Artistic Director Shaun Michael McNamara, has announced the All Puppet Players’ commitment to a permanent residence in Arizona with their new Kickstarter Campaign to procure the funding for a theatre HOME to call their very own. The campaign can be viewed at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/allpuppetplayers/all-puppet-players-need-a-home.
The word “Puppet” usually brings to mind an image of children’s gleeful faces chortling to the antics of colorful, cute fuzzy creatures extolling the virtues of any given letter of the alphabet. Well, these aren’t THOSE puppets! Arizona native Shaun Michael McNamara and his wildly entertaining cast of characters have their googly-eyes set on the theatre occupying the first floor of Viad Tower located in Midtown Phoenix (1850 N. Central Avenue). Their “Puppet Plea” for a home of their own can be viewed below:
This tawdry troupe brings edgy, irreverent, comedy geared toward the more mature theatre-goer. Felt will fly as McNamara and his in-your-face furries take hold of your hearts with odes to some classic films through parodies that are part fur, part felt—and ALL FUNNY!
Arriving in the Valley of the Sun last theater season after their triumphant performances and rave reviews to sell-out crowds in California, McNamara’s molting, motley crew delivered three hilarious, critically-acclaimed productions that tantalized theatre-goers of every taste (although tasting is NOT recommended—fur ball alert!).
Says McNamara of this venture, “This is a chance for an alternative theater to thrive in Arizona. We have such a unique niche when it comes to what we do on stage. It’s a combination of puppets, an original play, and then taking a torch to the ‘Theater 101’ handbook. We are part improv and part dynamite. Creating everything from the ground up, we write and build new theater pieces for an entire season. On top of that, we throw a whole bunch of furry and felt-infused puppets onto the stage and the result is something you have never seen before! This is our chance to prove that puppets are NOT just for children anymore AND can sustain an entire year of theater. So help us–you know you want to!”
Last season, All Puppet Players hit the ground running (so to speak) with their campy production of The Exorcist Has No Legs–their puppet-infused depiction of AFI’s #3 most thrilling movie, like, EVER! And what better way to pay homage to the 40th Anniversary of this epic horror tale, than with a puppet that rotates its head while spewing Silly String?
The craziness continued as audiences were invited to get “felt” up with the puppets lending a “hand” (sorry, couldn’t resist) taking their naughtiness to a whole new level of lewd with 50 Shades of Felt–based on the bestselling novel and much-heralded upcoming movie Fifty Shades of Grey. What resulted was a scintillating show that would make Avenue Q blush (not easy through fur), and also garnered three nominations for ariZoni Theater Awards For Excellence for Best Original Play and Supporting Actor nods for both Shaun Michael McNamara and cast member David Chorley.
Rounding out the tantalizing trilogy was the hairy and hilarious presentation of Top Gun: Live, Abridged, and Completely Underfunded as furry, fly-boy puppets took that “highway to the danger zone”–soaring several “feet” off the ground, taking the audience on a randy romp through the “sky”.
Once the puppets are off the streets and settled into their new home (otherwise referred to as ”Sober House”) and allowing for any needed rehab services, the puppets will be poised to perform some pretty prolific productions (note to self—great alliteration there!). Tentatively planned for this coming season are runs of Puppet Wars: Episode 1…But Really 4 (can you say “May the FELT be with you!”?), Humbug! (a fuzzy treatment of A Christmas Carol—with apologies in advance to Charles Dickens), and 50 Shades of Felt—just in time for Valentine’s Day lovers!
Theater Reviewer and Critic, Kerry Lengel of The Arizona Republic recognized All Puppet Playersin his August 1, 2014 column. Lengel touted in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, the best of the Phoenix area’s 2013-14 theatrical season, by figuratively handing out his own cleverly compiled awards. With great flourish, Lengel proclaimed “The South Park Award for yucky yuks goes to…All Puppet Players”—and followed with this statement:
“If you thought the foul-mouthed puppets of Avenue Q were outrageous, then you missed out on the naughtiest inaugural season in local-theater history. All Puppet Players is the twisted brainchild of Shaun Michael McNamara, who founded the company in Southern California before moving back home to Arizona last year. His pop-culture spoofs–The Exorcist Has No Legs, Fifty Shades of Felt and Top Gun: Live, Abridged & Completely Underfunded–didn’t just push the envelope of questionable taste, they tore it to hilariously filthy shreds, thanks to foam-rubber S&M and spray-can projectile vomiting.”
Shaun Michael McNamara learned puppetry as a child in Arizona, while enrolled in an After-School Program taught by an area music teacher. Seventeen years later, he opened his first show, Hamlet Has No Legs, to a sold-out run in California—with the educator that inspired his delve into puppetry in attendance.
Although All Puppet Players plans their theater residency at Viad Towers, they will continue to delight California audiences as well at The Maverick Theater in Fullerton where they have a fervent, fur-loving fan base.
All Puppet Players is a nomadic theatre troupe whose sole purpose is to create quirky and innovative stage shows using puppetry to demolish the “typical” theatre experience and add a bit of anarchy to every stage on which they perform. The company has garnered numerous awards and recognitions for their productions and live events. For more information, please visit their web site at www.allpuppetplayers.com, their Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/allpuppetplayers, or catch them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/allpuppetplayer.