puppet-show

Left to Right
Keith Huntley, Andrew Witts, Eileen Sims-Neighbour and David Leech

Above is a picture taken in the winter of 1980 and shows the "new" Pelham Puppet Theatre that been built at the Pelham Puppet Factory to give shows and hopefully sell more puppets.

This was certainly not the first theatre at the factory but as always the staff were delighted to show off the delightful antics of the puppets to the people that made them, their families and customers.

The stage was housed in the “Animated Hall” which was the largest room in the factory. During the year this room was used for storing and making the animated display units, however during the Christmas season most of the units were on loan to shops up and down the country, leaving the hall virtually empty. This made it ideal to house the stage and the rest of the hall set up with seating for over 100 people.

There was three main puppet operators ,Eileen Sims-Neighbour, Andrew Witts and David Leech. Helping them with the lighting control and scene changes were Keith Huntley, Tish Britten and Hazel Craig. All, were employed by Pelham Puppets at the time.

The stage is built in sections, so that it could be taken apart when not in use. It had two floors, along side each other, for quick scene changes. While one scene was on view the next scene was being prepared, ready to be rolled into place as the lights were dimmed. The floors were mounted on wheels that glide over aluminium channels much like a train does on a railway line.

In the show, which was a variety performance, there was “Animal” (from the Muppets) bashing his drums, to the accompaniment of the pop-group. This set was enhanced with flashing lights and bright colours. Then, by way of contrast, they had a Vent Boy, playing the piano.

One of the most popular “turns” was “I've lost my Mummy” by Rolf Harris, and it was found that the audience nearly always enjoyed this scene.

The show also had a troupe of dancing girls, and a circus. The circus scene was set for showing off Clever Willie, and a number of animals. Some of these puppets had one or two extra strings attached so that they could perform similar types of tricks as animals are trained to do in a live circus.

It was explained at the time that naturally, "puppet animals, can do much more than real animals"

As well as the lively musical variety performance, the puppeteers would introduce a short, three scene play of Hansel and Gretel, which aimed to provide the quieter interlude neces

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