The puppet show begins with a little boy puppet who doesn’t want to practice the piano. “No te gusta tocar el piano?” actor Christian Beltran, 24, asks the little boy. Beltran narrates, or introduces, each section of the show. When the boy playing the piano falls asleep, 14 animals bigger than you are come on the stage at different times and two puppeteers dressed in black work the puppets.
Allan Stevens, who runs the Puppet Company, had the idea to make the show bilingual, which means in two languages. He realized that a lot of kids coming to the shows speak languages other than English. It was Beltran, however, who translated the show. He grew up in Washington, but his parents are from El Salvador and Guatemala, so Beltran speaks Spanish fluently. He’s glad, he says, that his mom always spoke Spanish to him growing up. Now, it’s important that he keeps speaking Spanish so he doesn’t forget it. The show, he says, will be easy for all kids to understand.
Judy Brown, who wrote the puppet show more than 20 years ago, agrees. “This is a good show because you can do it for everybody,” she said.
The show is set to music that was written in 1886 by a French composer named Camille Saint-Saens. He divided the music into 14 short movements, or sections, that he wrote with specific animals in mind. In the first section, for example, piano and string instruments introduce the strong and roaring lion, who sounds like he is creeping slowly through the forest. Then it sounds like he leaps out from behind a bush when the piano comes to a sudden stop.
Since Saint-Saens didn’t write a story to go with the music, Brown thought it would be interesting to add one. “I could do anything I wanted,” she says, “which was kind of fun.”
READ this story in Spanish
— Moira E. McLaughlin