The Schuster Theatre is rehearsing with its hands.
“Whimsical Grimm,” a comedy-filled puppet show, will open 8 p.m. Thursday. Directed by the Rev. Shawn Clerkin, associate professor of theatre, the show is a one-act, “domestic” fairy tale told by two gnome puppet narrators.
“Whimsical Grimm” follows the story of two couples who live next door to each other but have never met. Four people appear onstage as the couples: a master and his maid and a scatter-brained woman and her patient husband.
Other puppets act as separate love interests between the couples.
All the puppets were made by students under the direction of Jax Kubiak, technical director of the Schuster Theatre, who spent her summer improving her puppetry skills at the O’Neil Center in Connecticut.
This mixed media show will be traveling to the International Collegiate Theatre Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland next August. Gannon’s actors have been acting in the festival since it started in 2010.
It’s grown to include dancers, concerts, and comedians as well as plays with over thirty colleges participating, Clerkin said. While the time commitment for the actors is serious, the show is not.
Clerkin said audiences will be treated with silliness.
“It’s ridiculously silly,” Clerkin said. “I laugh at it, and I consider myself sophisticated. It has a lot of slapstick but it’s also witty.”
Besides the fact that it includes puppets and people, “Whimsical Grimm” is different because it’s family friendly.
Despite this, there’s still an allowance for jokes that will make an older audience laugh.
Todd Paropacic, a junior theatre and communication arts major who plays Rupert, said the show involves a lot of comedic balance.
“The most challenging thing I would say of this whole process is finding a character that children will enjoy as much as the adults will,” Paropacic said.
The puppetry is another factor impacting rehearsals.
“It’s really no different than elaborate make-up or a prop,” Clerkin said. “The actors use it as a tool to tell the story onstage.”
After nearly a week without practice, the cast members are moving toward their premiere this week by adding in the last of the technical elements.
Stage manager Bryan Rhines, sophomore occupational therapy major, said he believes the cast is just about ready to entertain all ages.
“These unique actors have really outdone themselves in regards to character development,” Rhines said. “Their quirky movements and spontaneous ad-libs is what, in my opinion, gives great comedy and life and to the show.”
This “great comedy” plays at the Schuster Theatre at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. It will continue to play next week at 8 p.m. Dec. 12, 13 and 14.