Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Puppet theater pulls (heart)strings in L.A.

I can't believe I had to go to the New York Times to read an interesting story about a modest, off-the-beaten-path children's puppet theater in downtown L.A.

Well, actually I can. Thank you, Sam Zell.

In Jennifer Steinhauer's story, "Forget Citigroup, Puppet Show Needs a Bailout," she describes the man behind the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, located "(n)ear a freeway overpass on a decidedly scrappy edge of downtown Los Angeles." Apparently Baker (pictured left) has been creating marionettes ever since he was a student at Hollywood High, and his shows are a "staple of a Los Angeleno childhood."

Who knew? Apparently, a lot of people used to know, but now not so much. Either that, or everyone's just over their "scrappy" phase.

Unfortunately, Baker's theater, which opened in 1960 and houses some 3,000 puppets, is in serious debt and looking for support.

I wish I had known about his theater earlier. Birthday parties are apparently a specialty, and guess who's turning 2 this week? Luckily, his staging of the "Nutcracker" is still playing and could be a fun adventure for C in the coming weeks.

I'm sure there are tons of kid-friendly places around the city that haven't yet hit my radar. (Like I said, I'm not a native, and I've only been doing this parenting thing for a couple of years. I've had my cat longer than my baby, which seems vaguely strange to me now.)

Which leads me to my own plea for support: If readers have any ideas for other below-the-radar L.A. activities for children, please leave a comment or email me at losangelesstory@gmail.com.

After all, it's not as if I can rely on our own Times.

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater
1345 W. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90026


Ian Clark said...

Bob Baker had his own float at the Hollywood Santa Parade. He and his family made a dozen marionettes dance and wave from a fire-engine red truck. The crowd went crazy as they drove by!

Pat Saperstein said...

Well, technically, the LA Times reported on it on Nov. 22 -
- but perhaps the NY Times does a better job of highlighting things. And Jennifer has a good sense of what's interesting in L.A.
I used to go there for birthdays all the time as a kid, and I'm talking early 1960s! I also went to a lot of parties at Traveltown and at the late lamented Beverly Park, where the Beverly Center is now.

L.A. Story said...

Mea culpa. Pat's right. The L.A. Times has an interesting and newsy take on the financial crunch origins of the story itself.

Mike said...

Bob Baker's puppets do a free show every year at Pasadena's Leavitt Pavilion, as part of the weekly children's night. We went in 2006: http://franklinavenue.blogspot.com/2006/09/master-of-puppet-theater.html

Actually, the Leavitt Pavilion's free summer concerts are a perfect spot to pack a picnic dinner and bring the kid, especially on children's night. (But any night will suffice -- jazz, etc.)

L.A. Story said...

Good to know about the Leavitt Pavilion event. Thanks for the tip, Mike. Also liked your pictures ... and wonder if C would be intrigued and/or creeped out too.

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