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Puppetry center to launch summer show series

Harry the Hare and the Frog Prince himself will be featured guests in Sunday's puppet variety show.

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 16, 2000


The Frog Prince Puppetry Arts Center & Theatre will kick off its summer series of shows and workshops with a presentation by puppeteer Ron Brown, A Grand New Circus Show.

"I'll have the ostrich, a monkey on a trapeze, two clowns, a pink monster and my newest puppet, the elephant," Brown says as he manipulates the ostrich through the air. "The elephant has been a big hit with the birthday parties."

Brown, 44, has been putting on puppet shows since he was in the sixth grade in his hometown of Gadsden, Ala. "I've been interested in puppets since I was in the third grade," he said.

A resident of Largo for the past 20 years, Brown and his puppets were once part of the Joy Junction television program on WCLF-TV, Channel 22, where he now is a master control operator. For those shows, Brown also demonstrated his abilities in ventriloquism.

"I started doing my first shows for kids in the neighborhoods," he said. "I charged a nickel, and my mother made popcorn and Kool-Aid.

"I got involved with the Frog Prince just about the time it opened here."

He and Frog Prince founder/owner Norma Bigler have worked together putting on puppet festivals and regional shows.

Brown does his own shows using stringed marionettes or hand puppets for birthday parties, churches, recreation centers, family reunions, department stores, grocery stores, fast food franchises, retirement homes, summer camps and other places.

"I do about seven shows a week," he said. "This is good family entertainment."

At Sunday's show, Brown will use about a dozen of his 40 puppets in a 40-minute show to taped music.

"It's really more of a variety show; it's not a play," Brown explained. His puppets will go into the audience to encourage patrons to be part of the show.

Ms. Bigler will bring along Harry the Hare, Froggy darling on the high wire and, of course, the Frog Prince himself, who always reigns over performances at his theater.

If you go:

WHAT: A Grand New Circus Show

WHERE: Frog Prince Puppetry Arts Center & Theatre, 210 S Pinellas Ave. (Alt. 19), Tarpon Springs (The Arcade, Suite 158, entry from rear parking lot off Lemon Avenue)

WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday

TICKETS: $5 adults, $3 children. Call (727) 942-2222 or 784-6392.

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