Puppets in the spotlight

Fall cabaret fundraiser has locals trying their hand at acting

Ashley Thompson athompson@hantsjournal.ca
Published on August 20, 2013

Here’s the cast and crew behind the inaugural Mermaid Puppet Cabaret Fundraiser, from left, back row: Struan Robertson, Laurie Murley, Alex Jurgens, Jennifer Daniels and Lisa Gleave; front row: Jeff Redden and Jon Oulton.

Ashley Thompson

Some prominent locals are preparing to step out of their comfort zones, and into the spotlight, for the first-ever Mermaid Puppet Cabaret Fundraiser.

The group of soon-to-be puppeteers met at the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s headquarters on Gerrish Street, in Windsor, July 16to chat about the roles they will play in the fall cabaret.

Mermaid Theatre board members Jon Oulton and Alex Jurgens will join Windsor Home Hardware and Home Furniture owner Jeff Redden, Jennifer Daniels; owner of Daniels Flower Shop and a West Hants municipal councillor, and Laurie Murley, Windsor’s deputy mayor, as cast members in the cabaret.

“It’s going to be highly entertaining because none of these people have any puppetry experience whatsoever,” said Lisa Gleave, Mermaid Theatre’s general manager.

“This isn’t going to be an easy thing for them so it’s really amazing that they’ve volunteered to do this.”

Gleave says Redden is a long-time supporter of the theatre as a local businessman, and he seemed happy to oblige when invited to take part.

“I know that he loves getting involved in things and that he’d look at this as kind of an interesting challenge and have the guts to put himself out there.”

Gleave says Daniels typically donates bouquets for artists performing at the theatre, but it wasn’t difficult to persuade the small town flower shop owner to try something new. 

“She immediately said ‘yea, when do I put my tights on?’”

The budding puppeteers will be asked to think of an idea for a solo piece. They will then work with Mermaid’s Struan Robertson, a production associate and workshop co-ordinator, to build on their ideas. Robertson will build the puppets, and meet with the puppeteers for rehearsals.

“What we want to base the pieces on is something to do with their lives — their hobbies, their jobs, the region,” Gleave said.

If all goes as planned, the puppeteers will share the stage for a grand finale following the solo pieces.

Gleave says the puppet cabaret presents the community with an opportunity to see some familiar faces in an unfamiliar light — and laugh. A lot.

“It’s going to be a night of laughter and camaraderie.”

The goal of the cabaret fundraiser is to bring in at least $10,000 for such Mermaid operations as the Mermaid Youtheatre and the Puppetry Institute’s outreach programs.

The evening event, scheduled to take place Nov. 2 from 7-10 p.m. at the Mermaid Imperial Performing Arts Centre, will be hosted by Jill Chappell, a former Mermaid puppeteer turned Global Morning News co-anchor and weather specialist.

In addition to the show, there will be an auction, appetizers and cash bar. Tickets are $60, and include one drink ticket. Starting in August, tickets will be on sale at Windsor Home Hardware, Harvest Gallery in Wolfville and at Mermaid Theatre's headquarters at 132 Gerrish Street in Windsor.