The process began with some fabric and rudimentary head foam shapes on a worktable in Beth Kattelman’s studio.
Today those pieces and parts have transformed into the funny, cynical, witty – and, yes, irreverent – puppets, who will star in CATCO’s upcoming production of Avenue Q Aug. 1-19, 2012, at the Vern Riffe Center Studio One Theatre, 77 S. High Street.
Kattelman, the creator of CATCO's Trekkie Monster, Kate Monster, The Bad Idea Bears, Princeton, Newcomer, Rod, Lucy, Nicky, Mrs. Thistletwat and Ricky, spent around three weeks – untold hours, missed meals and limited sleep – hand fabricating the cheeky lot, who are rehearsing with their human actors to tell the satirical Avenue Q story about how tough it is to come of age in the real world.
A puppet master for years, Kattelman called the CATCO crew a "send-up of Sesame Street with Muppet-type context," keeping with the tradition of the original puppets in the Broadway version of Avenue Q, which won a Tony for best musical in 2003.
One slight diversion will be the bears. "I found a fringy, fur-like fabric I love in vibrant colors – Cookie Monster blue and a peach-yellow color. I had never seen these fabrics before and thought it would be perfect for the two bears," Kattelman said.
The remaining puppets are a variety of colors and made of mostly fleece. While much of the fabric was purchased locally, some had to ordered online. "This is not a good time of year to buy fur," Kattelman said.
Kattelman's love affair with puppetry started shortly after graduating from college. She and a colleague eventually founded a puppet-theatre company, Madcap Productions, in Cincinnati, which is still in business today.
Today she is Assistant Curator of the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute and teaches in the theatre department at The Ohio State University. She shares her puppet master talent with local theatres and is one of the original members of the Puppet Queers, a local group of puppet aficionados, who perform annually at Club Diversity.
She also co-founded and served as Artistic Director of the New Venture Theatre a Columbus company that was devoted to showcasing and developing new works.
Kattelman has a personal connection to puppets she has created over the years. "They all have their own little personalities and quirks," and, she confesses because of that bond her basement resembles a morgue. And, in case you were wondering, "they really do come to life."
Catch Kattelman's creations and other Avenue Q fun beginning Aug. 1. CATCO's production will be directed by CATCO artistic director Steven C. Anderson.
To begin the fun, theatre-goers are invited to check out CATCO's Avenue Q Facebook page for information about about the show and a special contest (posted on July 12).
Tickets for the musical, with music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, are $33.50 for preview performances, $11.50 for $11@11 matinees, $41 for Thursday and Sunday performances, and $45 for Friday and Saturday performances, and can be purchased at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets, and www.ticketmaster.com.
To purchase tickets by phone, please call (614) 469-0939. The Riffe Center Ticket office will open two hours before each performance.
For more information about CATCO's production of Avenue Q, click here.