Baker’s Beauties

Bob Baker Marionettes Halloween Hoop-de-do
Bob Baker Marionettes Halloween Hoop-de-do

When was the last time you saw a live puppet show?

The San Diego Zoo hosts a puppet show. Marionettes and hand puppets tell the story of Puff, The Magic Dragon, and his daring adventures.

Life-like animatronics birds at Disneyland’s Tiki Room are legendary.

And, of course, state-of-the-art, stylized Bunraku and shadow puppets tell the “Lion King” story on stage. (Disney’s musical, The Lion King, is currently playing at the Los Angeles Pantages Theater.)

Those venues can be expensive.

What if I told you a small but impressive theater in downtown Los Angeles presents  puppet shows weekly at a nominal price?

Today we saw Bob Baker’s marionettes rendition of “Halloween Hoop-De-Doo.”  The story: A little boy dreams of being visited in the night by Dracula, Vampira, the invisible man, skeletons, furry space creatures, neon painted ghosts and goblins.

Music ranged from the 50’s “Purple People Eater” to a 70’s disco soul.

Parents sat in folding chairs, while their children sat on the carpeted floor surrounding the stage.

One 9-year-old brought family and friends to celebrate his birthday. The puppet master brought him on stage to accept a gift – a personalized puppet from Bob Baker, an adjustable “gold” crown and a Happy Birthday serenade from the audience.

Lights dimmed. The show began.

The subdued lighting helped the kids get used to the unusual looking characters.

Lights dipped lower with each act until the stage was bathed in total darkness. Puppets coated in neon paint adopted an eery glow.

While the puppets were more interesting than frightening . . . ghosts made of ping-pong balls and chiffon . . . the faster they danced and flew overhead children began to  slithered from the floor to their parents laps. Eyes never leaving the stage. Each act ending in thunderous applause to the crescendo of the finale.

The next day our 7-year-old said, “That was scary.” Halloween Hoop-De-Do definitely left an impression.

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Ninety-year-old Bob Baker has been a puppeteer since age 8. He and his partner built and ran the now historical landmark theater, which opened in 1953. Baker and his team have been performing to sold out crowds year after year. The company hosts school and community groups, and private parties along with the weekend shows. Check their calendar for show dates and time. Or get on their email list to receive announcements of upcoming shows.

A documentary about Bob Baker and the marionette theater is currently under development. Today’s audience, many of whom have been patrons for decades, volunteered their participation.

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Tickets were $15 per person. Buy tickets online. The shows often sell out.

Parking was free.

Complementary ice cream treats are served after every performance.

For more information about Bob Baker


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