A show is born... / by Ora Fruchter

Welcome to The Amazing Story Laboratory! Our goal here is to share interesting behind-the-scenes stories about our development process.

So, how did The Amazing Story Machine begin? In one sense it began with the three fairytale musicals we created at Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre…

 This was the image we submitted with our grant application to the Jim Henson Foundation - all of these photos (taken by Ken Ek) are from Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre.

This was the image we submitted with our grant application to the Jim Henson Foundation - all of these photos (taken by Ken Ek) are from Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre.

Creating Gruff!, Grimm!, and Growl! (the Grilogy), we learned a lot about the kinds of puppets we’re interested in. We also got more puppet-centric with each new show. Gruff! mostly just had hand-and-rod puppets representing a few of the characters, then Grimm! used rod puppets, some shadow puppetry, and floating smart phones. Growl! was the most puppety, using complex tabletop puppets, overhead projectors, and tiny miniatures.

As we were applying to the Jim Henson Foundation (something we did every year), we wanted to make a true puppet show (as opposed to a musical with puppet elements). We also wanted to explore the Grimms further. In Grimm!, Jacob, Wilhelm, and their malfunctioning machine act as comic relief and part of a side plot to the main story. So we decided to zero in on them. The Grimm family would be the base characters for the puppeteers - and all the puppets would be made out of machine parts and other objects once the machine breaks.

Our shows always draw inspiration from the things we loved as kids. In this case the main inspiration for the Grimms are…

 Ludwig von Drake! An eccentric Prussian duck and mercurial narrator…

Ludwig von Drake! An eccentric Prussian duck and mercurial narrator…

 Dreamfinder from Journey into Imagination! a ride at Disney World that Ora and Chris were both obsessed with as kids (we’re still somewhat obsessed with it)

Dreamfinder from Journey into Imagination! a ride at Disney World that Ora and Chris were both obsessed with as kids (we’re still somewhat obsessed with it)

In another sense, the show began with this guy and the foundation he created:

muppet-2.jpg

Not many people realize that alongside his famous films and TV shows that Jim Henson was an advocate for live puppet theatre in America. Early on in his puppetry career, Jim traveled through Europe to learn more about traditional puppet theatre. Later in his career he created the Jim Henson Foundation to encourage the creation of new works of American puppet theatre. America doesn’t have the same long history of traditional puppet theatre that the rest of the world does - so the continuing work of the Jim Henson Foundation is vital to American puppet artists like us!