Oregon Shadow Theatre
'Far out! A Flower Child!' - Shadow puppets by Deb Chase    

Oregon Shadow Theatre Presents


An original shadow play
based on the classic fairy tale
by Hans Christian Andersen

Shadow Puppets and Live Music
Performed by Deb Chase and Mick Doherty

View a Clip of Thumbelina on YouTube

Thumbelina is one of Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen's most delightful characters, a miniature girl born from a flower who has to find her own way in the world of nature. In this OST production Thumbelina journeys through a series of natural habitats to discover her home in the land of the flower fairies. Through the seasons of the year, Thumbelina has adventures with frogs in a pond, flying beetles in a tree, a swallow in the woods, a mouse in a field and a mole in his underground home.

The visual design of this colorful shadow play is drawn from Art Nouveau, the decorative art movement of the late 1800s which is characterized by its flowing organic lines and its nature themes. Art Nouveau had a resurgence in the 1960s, and the art and music of the Rock 'n Roll era inspired much of the visual and aural design of the play. While the plot of the play follows Andersen's story, the script supports a comic sub text linking music of the 1960's and '70s to Thumbelina's desire to find her home in a land of flowers. The live music is performed on hammer dulcimer, electric guitar, and an assortment of percussion and sound effects devices.

Oregon Shadow Theatre's production of "Thumbelina" has been awarded the UNIMA-USA Citation of Excellence in the Art of Puppetry.

Program running time: 45 to 50 minutes

Theater review (excerpt) Seattle Times, Saturday, 2/28/98

"THUMBELINA - Produced and performed by Oregon Shadow Theatre"

by Richard Farr

"Hans Christian Andersen never had it so groovy. This new shadow puppet version of 'Thumbelina', his story about a tiny girl born from a flower, gives her adventures a Woodstock Generation twist.

"Thumbelina's world -- a projection screen the shape of a setting full moon -- is populated by a rainbow cast of mice, frogs, birds and bugs. Her funny, engaging story is told by the multi-voiced talent of Mick Doherty, who is a cross between a hippie and a teddy bear, with beard borrowed from Tolstoy and grin borrowed from a leprechaun.

"Mick sits to one side in a cluster of musical instruments, strumming a bright red electric guitar, and tells how Thumbelina ('a flower child') meets, among others, a frog called Buford who has a thing about Elvis. ('Ain't nuthin' but a bu-ull-frog.')

"Thumbelina meets a mouse, Mrs. Strawberry Fields. The mouse's best friend is the mole Mr. Darkness ('Hello, Darkness, my old friend...'). And there's a fine talent show, with a cheesy six-legged host ('good evening, ladybugs and gentlebeetles') who does a pretty good imitation of Roy Orbison.

"The other half of the team, behind the scenes, is Deb Chase, who designs, makes and expertly manipulates the bits of plastic and paper out of which she and Mick spin their magic.

"'Don't you wish they all could be California bu-ugs?' Truth is, the Oregon bugs seem to be just fine. On a sunny afternoon there was scarcely a seat at the Northwest Puppet Center to be had."

Oregon Shadow Theatre is a Portland, Oregon based company specializing in the ancient art of shadow puppetry. Their award-winning shadow plays have toured the United States and Canada, including performances at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., as well as theatres, schools and festivals from coast to coast.

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