“Is your name Nebuchadnezzar?” “Is your name Rip Van Winkle?” “Is it, it couldn’t be this, is it Rumpelstiltskin?”
With those three sentences the queen, formerly a miller’s daughter, managed to save her first-born child from the clutches of an evil Rumpelstiltskin, bent on causing mischief in her kingdom.
The classic tale was brought to life Saturday at the Kenai Library using marionettes that have been traveling the country since 1964 with the Indiana-based Stevens Puppets.
Several rows of children sat on the library floor staring at the stage through 45-minute show, a phenomena Zan Raynor — puppeteer and operator of Stevens Puppets — said she is used to seeing.
“So many children don’t see live theater,” said Zan Raynor who runs Stevens Puppets. “So many things are on t.v. or it’s a video game, to actually see live theater is new... It doesn’t matter if you’re in an inner city school with very, very poor children and they’ve never seen something like this or if you’re in a very wealthy school with kids that have been taken to the ballet, they all sit spellbound and it’s amazing to them.”
Zan’s husband Dan Raynor works the marionettes as well, the two took over Stevens Puppets which has been operating for more than 75 years.
“We do everything,” Zan said. “I write the scripts and Dan makes the stages and I paint the scenery and the puppets.”
All of the puppets are made out of wood and Zan said several of the shows have been in use for several decades.
Next summer, Zan said, she and Dan will be touring with a show of Sleeping Beauty that has been touring since 1954.
“We do a lot of touch-up,” she said. “(Rumpelstiltskin) is coming up on its 50th year. This underwent a huge restoration process.”
After the show, Dan gave a history of Stevens Puppets, the marionettes and the touring crows to the group and managed to keep the kids laughing as loudly as they did during the show.
“They’re just so excited to see somebody be completely goofy and uninhibeted and they just giggle, they laugh, they’re loud and it’s ok,” Zan said. “So many places it’s not, storytime, school, you just have to sit down and be quiet and in Dan’s world you just laugh, make loud, chime in and it’s good. It’s always good.”