‘Puppets on the Common’ Returns Thursday

When  “Puppets on the Common” returns for its second season Thursday, master puppeteer, actress and singer Charlotte Dore hopes the universal appeal of her craft will again serve to unite disparate families from across the city.

“Theatre brings people together who would otherwise have nothing in common,” Dore said. “It’s something that transcends language and culture.”

Last August, Friends of the Public Garden brought Dore to the Boston Common, resuming the tradition of puppet shows at the park after a 16-year lull. But unlike the inaugural event when Dore worked solo using marionettes, this year’s “Puppets” features three singers (Dore and her two “Stiletto Sisters”) and hand puppets. They will perform Dore’s “The Three Singing Princesses,” which she describes as a “story of adventure and courage” that follows the trio’s quest to find their lost father, the King.

Again this year, the program was underwritten by a grant from the M. Holt Massey Charitable Trust and takes place at the Parkman Bandstand – an oft-overlooked Common landmark near the Boylston Street MBTA station and tennis courts that celebrates its centennial in 2012.

“I’m very honored any time I perform on the Common,” Dore said of performing at the bandstand on this landmark year. “It’s just a great place to do something I feel so passionately about.”

“Puppets” is the brainchild of Wendy Franco Almquist, an active participant in the Friends group who suggested puppetry in response to Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s call to action for new ways to activate underutilized areas of the city’s parks.

The idea gained additional momentum when Almquist found an 1883 newspaper illustration advertising a “Punch and Judy” show on the Common while researching the history of puppet shows on the park

“Whenever you mention the word ‘puppetry’ to someone, it puts a smile on [his or her] face,” Almquist said.

Almquist describes the puppet shows as yet another way the Friends group works to enliven the city and its parks.

“Like the ‘Make Way for Ducklings’ parade… ‘Puppets on the Common’ is just another example of the work that the Friends do to make Boston so special,” Almquist said.

“Puppets” takes place at the Parkman Bandstand on the Boston Common on Thursday, Aug. 23, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. The performance is free and open to the public.

Guests are welcome to bring a blanket or a chair, but an adult must accompany all children. In the case of inclement weather, up to 30 children can be accommodated beneath the Parkman dome on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information or to volunteer, visit www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org, call 617-723-8144 or e-mail [email protected].

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