Blair Thomas & Company’s latest, a one-hour program meant for kids ages four to 12, is “a classical piano recital masquerading as a puppet show.” Mary Rose Norrell begins with Chopin’s Scherzo in B-flat Minor, accompanying the wordless dance and movement of three puppets with outsize heads and hands as they attempt to sit, to sleep, to dream, and to leave. Set to the quicksilver music, this is more tragicomic than it sounds, but the second piece, set to a score for toy piano, is dead serious, romantic and dramatic. The last and longest puppet spectacle takes as inspiration Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, itself a creative response. The company has worked on this piece for many years, and this latest incarnation—featuring a girl, a rabbit, and bunraku jesters moving between playfulness and ominous frenzy—is a masterwork. —Suzanne Scanlon
Click HERE to view on the Chicago Reader.