Annika’s Elephants Parade down Trade Street
Published 1:28 pm Thursday, July 13, 2023
Members of Sesame Street visit Tryon
TRYON– The cast of Annika’s Elephants, performing Friday and Saturday at the Tryon Fine Arts Center, held a parade on Wednesday, showing off the handmade elephant puppets used in the show. The elephant’s parade started on Chestnut St. down Pacolet St. gathering around town mascot, Morris the Horse, before heading up Trade St.
The show by Sesame Street staff writer, children’s book author and Emmy winner, Annie Evans features puppets built by her husband, master puppeteer Martin Robinson, who voices and operates Sesame Street favorites Telly, Mr. Snuffalupagus, and Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors, on Broadway and off.
Annika’s Elephants was born out of a trip to Kenya by Evans and her love of elephants. Annika’s Elephants is a story of compassion and courage. Aanika is a young African girl who meets Little, an orphaned baby elephant living at the sanctuary where her father works. The two grow up together the way only two young girls can, even if one has a trunk.
“The show is about the flexibility of family. A young girl and a baby elephant grow up together as sisters, so the tagline we came up with is “How anything can be a family.” Evans said as she described the play’s theme. “The world is thinking flexibly about family these days, and we’ve tried to reflect it in this play.”
The show will make its Broadway debut next year and features a very talented mix of actors and puppeteers, many of who are regular performers on Sesame Street with Jim Henson puppeteers, including the play’s Director Pam Arciero, a puppeteer with Sesame Street and the Muppets for more than 35 years.
Robinson also taught workshops on puppeteering that included fans and fledgling puppeteers of all ages, who came together to learn the basics of an art form he’s performed for over 40 years and traveled the world teaching.
Robinson describes the process of building the puppets for Annika as a fun challenge, “Usually, when I build, I’m using industrial products, plastic, fur, fleece, and feathers. I wanted to make these out of natural materials, so I set myself a design ethic: reed, rattan, and bamboo. All the connecting materials are rope and twine. I tried to use as many natural materials as possible.”
“We cast from some of the best puppeteers on Sesame Street since that’s my day job, working on Sesame.” said Robinson. “Four of our main puppeteers are main cast members that have joined the cast in the last couple of years.”
Performances will be held on Friday, July 14, 2023, at 1 pm and Saturday, July 15th, at 1 pm and 6 pm. Tickets are 5$ in advance and 7$ at the door. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit TFAC”s website, Tryonarts.org.