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The historic puppets are ready to perform “Amahl and the Night Visitors”

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — The excitement is brewing around Lourdes High School with the production of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” set to premiere Friday night. The twist with this play is it features a cast of life-size puppets, and not just any puppets, but the same puppets used to put on a performance for the Queen of England back in the 1970s.

“Amahl and the Night Visitors” was the first live opera broadcast on network television, airing on NBC Christmas Eve, 1951. The story depicts an alternative Nativity Story, where the Three Kings are on their way to see Baby Jesus.

It’s not focused on Baby Jesus, it’s focused on this other kid that no one really knows anything about,” said Lourdes Senior, Kristen Watkins.

It was produced two decades later for the Queen of England with life-size puppets. Now those same puppets are in Rochester and creating a unique and fun challenge for the Lourdes theatre department.

“Lots of communities have put this up in various ways and I thought it’s our turn, lets give it a try,” said Bob Gardner, the Lourdes School Chair of Fine Arts and Director of “Amahl and the Night Visitors.”

But not everyone was on board with the play at first.

“Originally when they announced they were doing this, I was a little hesitant because of the puppets,” said Lourdes Junior, Theresa Bell.

That hesitancy quickly changed.

“It’s so much fun, we have so much fun, especially with Amahl and the Kings,” continued Bell.

The students also say this production is adding another layer to their performance skill sets.

“I think it’s definitely a really big aspect of growing for me in terms of theatre, because usually it’s like you just express the feelings through your voice, but you actually have to think about how the actions of the puppet can express the feelings,” explained Watkins.

From doubt to confidence in the pull of a string.

“Once they started having fun with the puppets, there came a point in rehearsal when they would go and retrieve the puppets and they would talk to the puppets as if the puppets were friends of theirs. That’s when we knew we sort of turned a corner, because they were taking the personality of the puppet as seriously as you would take the personality of a character, if you were acting,” continued Gardner.

He says the play runs about 60 minutes and is a fun viewing experience.

The schedule for “Amahl and the Night Visitors” is: Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

Tickets available for presale here or at the door. Adults – $12 presale, $15 at the door. Senior Citizens – $8 presale, $10 at the door. Students – $8 presale, $10 at the door.

Holden Krusemark

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