Puppetry: a hidden treasure

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SCERA, an Orem-based nonprofit organization, began hosting a series of monthly puppet showcases in September and plans to continue this tradition with five performances January through May.

These performances start Saturday and will highlight Coralie Leue, a local puppeteer, as she shares the original adventure, “Treasure Chest.”

“Treasure Chest” is the story of an unnamed hero, referred to as Lad, who sets out for what he thinks will be an ordinary day of fishing, but to his surprise he encounters a swashbuckling pirate with a mysterious treasure chest. Lad and his new companion embark on the adventure of a lifetime — sailing, singing songs and encountering sea serpents along the way.

“ ‘Treasure Chest’ is full of adventure and mystery,” Leue said. “It’s a little bit silly and a little scary. It’ll be just as fun for adults as it is for children.”

April Berlin, SCERA’s Marketing and Development representative and operations manager, explained that puppetry is a unique theatrical art often overlooked in local theatre.

“Puppetry is an art and an art form that we hadn’t tapped into yet,” Berlin said. “We noticed that there was a real void in the market.”

Berlin said the organization hoped to not only entertain and educate children in the arts, but to give local puppeteers an opportunity to perform. She also explained that the showcases started in large part because of SCERA Technical Director Nat Reed.

Reed got his start in puppetry during his time as a toy maker at Mattel. Reed said he would often spend free time tinkering with parts, which led to the birth of his first puppet and a passion for puppetry.

Reed passes on his passion for puppetry as a professor of Theatre Arts at BYU. He also teaches community puppetry classes at SCERA.

For Leue, Reed and many other puppeteers, puppetry is a family affair. Reed said his grandmother was a puppeteer before him and as a parent, puppetry is something he enjoys doing with his children.

“My kids all love puppetry and they love making puppets,” Reed said, adding that he and  his daughters, spanning ages 6 to 24, are currently preparing a show they will perform in March.

Leue got her start in puppetry by watching her father, who did puppetry as a hobby. In fact, Leue said”Treasure Chest” is based loosely on a story told by her father called “The Sea Chest.”

Asked what parents and children should expect, Leue and Reed said the showcases will be fun, hands-on and interactive. Reed also said he hopes the monthly showcases will help children and parents alike gain a greater appreciation for the art of puppetry.

“Treasure Chest” will be be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at the SCERA Center for the Arts, 745 S. State St., Orem. Tickets can be purchased for $3 per person for ages 2 and older and are available in advance at the main office of the SCERA Center during normal business hours, or at the door 30 minutes prior to the show. Patrons can also purchase tickets by calling (801) 225-ARTS or online at scera.org.

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