Preview: Paul Mesner Puppets’ “Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins”

I wrote a preview for this year’s performance of Paul Mesner Puppets’ “Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins” for The Kansas City Star.

On a personal note, as a family we’ve gone to see this puppet show the last two years, though schedules don’t allow it this year. Hoping life will be a little calmer next year, because the whole family (toddlers through retirees) enjoy it and it’s a great balm to the inundation of Christmas (though I love Christmas, do we seriously need our cherry tomatoes designated as “Salad’s Little Helpers”).

One paragraph was cut for space, but – since you’re here – I’ll include my words about the illustrator Trina Shart Hyman, whose work was integral to the success of the book and also serves as the visual basis for this production, too.

The show takes its visual elements from the Caldecott Honor-winning design of illustrator Trina Schart Hyman, and it was Hyman’s gorgeous artwork (herself a Caldecott Medal-winner) that helped popularize this non-traditional addition to the holiday’s lore. Hyman’s intricately lined drawings elaborate on the text, filling in the details suggested for each goblin, making them both laughable and hideous. She created an organic, shadowed environment for Hershel’s adventure that plays with both dimension of scale and dramatic lighting and evokes a nostalgic setting of traditional 19th century living. The puppet design for Hershel and the goblins, as well as the scenery, closely match her illustrations.

You can read the rest of the piece here.

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