Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Making of a Puppet! "Seussical-A Musical"

Behind-the-Scenes continues with Randy Herget....The Making of the Fish.

Before you take a look at these fish...I have breaking news.  At rehearsal last night,  Cody Braudt, CVFT "Seussical-The Musical" Puppeteer and California Institute of Arts student, said he is having kids at Excelsior Art on the Lake help him make the biggest puppet in the show. SUPER COOL!
This one! We're going to help make this one -the 12' one!
Please join us for this creative and fun adventure. We will also have Dr. Seuss hats to hand out, our new season announcement, cast, crew and puppeteers from the show AND a make your own Cat in the Hat puppet to take home. ok -now on to Making Fish Puppets:
"Seussical-The Musical" Fish Sculpture

Step 1 - Sculpture:   Cody Braudt and his team  mold out the fish shape by hand with a special type of clay. This unique creature is about 12" long and 5" wide at the biggest point. Check out the detail on the tail.
Step 2 - The Fish Mold: This Plaster of Paris type material is then poured around the fish and dried. It will be used to make the final fish structure. 

Plaster of Paris type mold of the "Seussical" fish.

Step 3 & 4 - Pouring & Drying: The mold is then closed, banded together and a liquid neoprene rubber is poured into the hole. This special material dries from the outside in which allows the artists to create a structure that is hollow. Over the three day drying process, and before the piece completely dries, the creator tips the mold over and pours out the remaining liquid. This hollows out the fish.

The closed and banded mold with the infamous spout.

Step 5 - Opening the Mold: I got video of this part.

An up-close of the neoprene wonder.
Step 6 - Cleaning & Sanding: Using a sculpting knife, Randy, Cody and team scrape off the excess pieces of the fish and also use a sander to make the fish the exact shape and texture they are looking for.
Anna Stauber, Co-Producer of "Seussical" seen here cutting away the excess neoprene.
More expert shaping and cutting.
Randy at the sander.

The after product before painting
Step 7 -Painting: The fish are spray painted and then detail is added by hand. In all there will be 40 of these creatures taking the stage alongside their puppet-masters. Steps 8 and 9 are not shown here as Randy said that is a secret he wouldn't tell. You have to see the show to find out what happens to the fish!

Randy and his painted creation.
Stay tuned for more behind the scenes....for more tickets and info please visit us at

CVFT fan, Art on the Lake Attendee and Sometimes Ensemble Singer

P.S. Cody said he would be like to have a Puppet Q&A after the Sat. June 23rd 2:00pm show...stay tuned.
P.P.S. One more picture...
Fish molds waiting for the scraping and sanding process.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Rehearsal: Performers & Puppets!

This past weekend, the CVFT Production Team held rehearsal at River Valley Dance Academy for the upcoming show, "Seusical-The Musical".  Each room in the building was bustling with energy and creativity. Actors, puppets, instructors, dancers, and costume fittings were organized throughout while music and laughter spilled from each room. A perfect way to spend a rainy Saturday!

Young actors prepare to rehearse a dance complete with bamboo sticks! 
Next door, set construction was underway. Nothing better than watching the Scenic Design team work while the smell of fresh cut lumber lingers in the air.  "Oh, is THAT Horton's tree?!", I ask. "Yes", says Randy. "Now get outta here and no pictures". But I did get a snap of part of the bird costume apparatus that he is working on...
Jennifer Sopoci-Hardin is seen here giving me a sneak peek at the back of her costume.

Meanwhile, back in the studio the Wickerhams, lead by Choreographer Jocelyn Braudt, are rehearsing a hilarious jungle scene in one room while Cody Braut is working with the Teen Puppet Ensemble in the next room.

This particular group, lead by lead actor, France Roberts is working on the opening scene. "This must be crisp. This must be perfect", says Cody, Puppet Designer and Instructor. "It sets the tone for the whole show."

As you can see from the picture, the scene entails the actors using their bodies as something (I won't spoil it -but it is super cool). They hold their arms like that for awhile (especially in rehearsal!). Cody tells them they need to lift weights at home to help with this scene. "Use soup cans and lift them while you're watching tv", he explains to them.

As some of the actors work to perfect scenes, some of the younger actors watch patiently nearby. It's amazing how they study and watch -like sponges. There is a jovial atmosphere but the cast members are serious about their craft. They are there to work. There to make the performance the best it can be.
Braudt and his Shadow Puppetry Workshop
Now the younger troop is up and ready to go. Cody works with each of them on puppetry skills- specifically shadow puppets for this scene. Cody dims the lights and explains the nuances of the shadow, the importance of a flat screen or surface, a good light and a steady hand.

Alterations on an inside-out Bird Girl costume
In the next room, costumes are being altered as well. Mary Twite is seen here working on a fitting with one of the beautiful Bird Girls. Jane Herget, Costume Designer along with Twite, are currently putting the finishing touches on more than 70 costumes for the show. Many of which they have crafted by hand. The fabric and feathers I've seen so far are gorgeous, lively colors. Just like you'd imagine Seuss to be.

Sets, actors, costumes, instructors, etc. Things are gearing up and the show is set to be absolutely fantastic. As always, I will put ticket information below but also wanted to let you know we will be onsite this weekend at Excelsior's Art on the Lake. Please stop by our "Seuss-Booth",  next to the Kids' Art Tent, where you will be able to see some of our puppet creations up close!

Tix for "Seussical": CLICK HERE for TIX to "Seussical"


Chaska Valley Family Theatre Lover & Ensemble Singer Extraordinaire