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‘The Blue Bird’ puppet show opens Nov. 16 at MACC

Signal Mountain director Colleen Laliberte, with the Tennessee Center for Puppetry Arts, is presenting “The Blue Bird” at Mountain Arts Community Center for a single weekend Nov. 16-18.

Based on the Nobel Prize-winning story by Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck, “The Blue Bird” was adapted for puppet theater by Chattanoogan Fred Arnold, who first presented it in 1985 at the Oak Street Playhouse downtown.

He directed three productions, all of which featured Laliberte as a puppeteer.

“I’m so very honored to be able to continue that legacy,” said Laliberte, who purchased the show from Arnold after he retired from puppet theater two years ago.

With more than 50 puppets moving through 17 scenes and three stages, “The Blue Bird” took Arnold three years to build and is his largest and most elaborate show, said Laliberte.

“It’s a beautiful story and great thought-provoking entertainment for a family audience,” she said. “Even though it’s a hundred years old, the message is so appropriate for today.”

Set on Christmas Eve, she said the story is an allegory about man’s search for happiness.

The two main characters (the only human characters) are a little boy and girl who are visited by a fairy that takes them on a journey to imaginary lands in search of “the blue bird,” which represents happiness.

Eventually they wake up in their beds and realize the bird was right in front of them all along.

“People think of puppets as quite whimsical, but they actually convey a really poignant message,” Laliberte said. “It’s a beautiful way to tell a story that stands the test of time.”

The 80-minute show may not be appropriate for very young children; Laliberte recommends bringing only children age 5 and older.

“School-age children would love the show,” she said. “For 2-year-olds it might be kind of frightening.”

“The Blue Bird” features three adult puppeteers and 13 students, many of whom also worked on the first production of the Tennessee Center for Puppetry Arts last spring, “Beastie’s Birthday Party.”

Showings of “The Blue Bird” are Friday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 17 at 2 and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. Cost of admission is $8.

Onstage

MACC is at 809 Kentucky Ave. and can be reached at 886-1959.

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