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The History of Porta-Puppet Players
Uncle WayneIn the fall of 1988, at the invitation of director and best friend Edward R. Cox, "Uncle" Wayne Daigrepont helped to repaint and refurbish the exhibits in Storyland in City Park.  It is here he met Storyland's manager Bill Cangemi, and a trio of lifelong friendships was born.  Taken with Wayne's theatrics, Cangemi eventually hires him as park manager, which includes creating and performing puppet shows in the Puppet Castle.  It was his time at Storyland which helps "Uncle" Wayne to develop his skills as a performer, program developer, and producer of original puppet shows.

The popularity of "Uncle" Wayne's shows grew, earning listings in the Times-Picayune (a first for the shows at City Park.)  One year later, Daigrepont (wanting to do a "summer musical") created Jacqueline and the Beanstalk, an original puppet musical comedy.  In order to create the effect of the beanstalk, the New Orleans Fire Department had to bring in a truck to attatch pulleys to the historic oaks.  The show was a hit; so popular that special night-time performances were scheduled in the park.  WWL-TV 4's Morning Show featured the production, which boasted a star-studded cast.  Legendary director Stocker Fontelieu provided the voice of the Jacqueline's Father, while actor/Carnival icon Becky Allen supplied the voice of The Giantess (a performance immortalized on "Queen of the Kingdom", part of the Original Cast Recording "The Music of Porta-Puppet Players.")

Though his shows are certified hits, a change in management at City Park left "Uncle" Wayne unemployed, but only for a short while.  In 1990, the Esplanade Mall (based on his successes in City Park) asked if he "could do a puppet show!?"  Seeing the opportunity, Wayne builds a portable puppetorium and debuts the very first Porta-Puppet Players Original Puppet Musical-Comedy, Louisiana Red Riding Hood!  The show abounds with local humor, paying homage to the format created by Burr Tillstrom & Fran Allison on the "Kukla, Fran, and Ollie" television programs from the 60's.  The show is written for Wayne's longtime friend, confidant, and vocalist Carmen Rose, who plays Red as a 40-year-old costarring with an all-puppet cast...complete with original costume!

From the beginning, Porta-Puppet Players was a success.  As word got out, Daigrepont began to think "why limit our business to puppet shows?"  Always deeply involved in local theatre, Daigrepont was soon able to create a stable of jugglers, clowns, facepainters, Barbershop Quartets, stilt-walkers, a vast assortment of 'Toon Favorites, and even a train!  For over a decade Daigrepont continued to produce original puppet musicals wherin all the music and puppet voices and songs were prerecorded in the studio, then Daigrepont or other members would be human in front (earning this position the title of "The Fran!")  In 1991, local comedian and "super-thespian" Vatican Lokey joined the company, and the combination proved to be riotously funny.

Among some of the highlights from Porta-Puppet's history:
     Commissioned in 1995 by the New Orleans Museum of Art to create In the Garden of Monet with Reneé, a special puppet musical commemorating their celebrated Monet exhibit.  The show's Fran was future Broadway actor Julie Tolivar as "Reneé."
     Five of Porta-Puppet's shows have been given full-scale theatrical productions:  Sammy the Sorceror's Unsightly Halloween, The Bepuzzled Pilgrim, An Afternoon with Aesop (combining two Aesop shows into one production), and The Toymaker's Helper.
     International opera stars Melissa Marshall and Sarah Jane McMahon both worked extensively with Porta-Puppets in the 1990's.
Over the years, the puppetoriums underwent changes to accomodate the growing roster of shows (like <>local thespian & engineer, Jeff Riddick, in helping revive Jacqueline devised an apparatus to "hoist" up the Beanstalk 50' into the air....from the puppetorium!  But regardless of the show, the set-up time for erecting the puppetorium was 2+ hours...which, after 10 years, wore thin.  Daigrepont hit upon the idea of reworking his shows into a sleeker, more intimate, more affordable format called Storytelling with Puppets.  The concept proves to be very popular; the human, costumed character roams through the audience, and the puppets are neatly veiled on a table behind the performer.

Today, in addition to Storytelling with Puppets, the ever-growing roster of Porta-Puppet talents allows us to provide a wide selection of entertainment commodities designed to suit every age at every stage.  We perform daily for conventions, parties, schools, camps, malls, private parties, events, premieres, and more!
Now how many companies do you know that can entertain 2 & 3 year olds in the same day as 80 & 90 year olds!?  As our slogan clearly states (staunchly .....since 1990) :  "Our entertainment comes to YOU!"

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