By Margaret Markham, Academic Coordinator, Berkshire Center
Students who participate in puppeteers for their community service at CIP at the Berkshire Center in Lee, MA had a great time putting on a show for 15 youngsters on November 2 at the Congregational Church here in town. The youngsters really got a kick out of the show.
They were such an appreciative audience, and the puppeteers enjoyed performing their show Lobsters in Love for them. The show is based on the book by the same name written by Richard and Lindsey Kidd.
Back, left to right: Margaret Markham, Stevanne Decker, Shannon McDermott, Christina Tenore, Glen Downey. Front, left to right: Paul Morris, Jennifer Hersch, Lindsay Tanis.
The story is about Monsieur Thermidore, a French lobster chef who runs “the most popular restaurant beneath the waves where sea creatures swim from miles around to enjoy his famous seaweed soup.” Monsiour T. is planning a birthday bash to be held at his restaurant, and he goes off to the coral reef in search of the best seaweed to put in his famous soup. The reef gives way and he sinks down into the deep black part of the ocean and lands in a pirate’s treasure chest. Some fisherman cast their nets and haul Monsiur T. up onto the deck of their fishing boat where he finds a beauriful lady lobster sobbing with her claws bound. Of course Monsieur T. rescues her, and they swim back to the restaurant where they hold the birthday bash, and Monsier Thermidor and his lovely lady Angelique are married by the Rev. Clamshell. After the ceremony the celebration begins, and the puppet show ends with all of the sea creatures dancing merrily while the singing lobster, Senior Kocomo, sings “Olay Olay.”
Paul Morris was a fisherman who narrated through his colorful red and white fish. Zach Zeller, who amazed us all with his fabulous French accent played Monsieur Thermidore. He was tres manifique! Lindsay Tanis did an excellent job as Angelique a lovely lady lobster in distress who falls madly in love with the brave Monsieur Thermidore. She also entertained the audience by making the purple octopus dance. Stevanne Decker played the Rev. Clamshell who unites the two lobster in matrimony. Christina Tenore acted the part of Salome Starfish, a horoscope columist who predicts Monsieur Thermidore’s future. She also operated Sr. Kokomo the singing lobster. Jennifer Hersch, Glen Downey and Shannon McDermott played three fishermen who are amazed by the two lobsters, and Jennifer also played a clownfish who looked remarkably like Nemo. Katrina Karro-Gassner operated our sound effects.
The students had a great time preparing for this puppet show last year. All of the sea creatures dance to Be Our Guest from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid, also a Disney show. Michael Newson our art instructor created many of the backdrops for the show and worked with the students getting them painted during art class. This allowed some of the students who weren’t in the show to participate in another way and make a contribution.
Last year the show was taken on the road to various early child care centers where our students who are studying ECE at Berkshire Community College have placements. We even did one show in the evening so the children’s parents could come with them to see the show and enjoy a pizza party. We had a former student, Patrick the Balloon Man Dermody on hand to make a lobster balloon sculpture for each child. This show in particular was a real community service involving young and old alike.
Here is what some of the puppeteers have to say about their community service:
Lindsay: “I just love making the kids happy!” Glen: “I enjoy entertaining people.” Shannon: “I really enjoy putting on the show and seeing the expressions on the kids’ faces.” Stevanne: I can feel the kids smiling even though I am behind the curtain.” Paul: It’s the greatest community service I’ve ever done; I just love it! I’ve been doing it for two years.” Jen: “I love the smiles on the children’s faces when we come out with the puppets at the end of the show!” Christina: It’s fun to get together with the puppet group and make kids happy.”
And make kids happy they do! I am so very fortunate to get to share this wonderful experience with so many of our CIP students.