Good at pulling strings
By Janna Odenthal Post-Tribune correspondent July 7, 2011 4:32PM
Dave Herzog controls the king during a Dragon Days and Summer Knights 2011 A.D. presentation at the Westchester Public Library in Chesterton. The show was part of the library’s summer reading program. | Scott M. Bort~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 31, 2011 10:39AM
“Ambassadors” from several countries recently visited the Westchester Public Library Service Center in Chesterton.
A Russian trapeze artist, German juggler and other celebrities marked the birthday of King Percy the Persnickety in a play written by marionette creator and performer Dave Herzog of Chicago.
The show was part of the library’s summer reading program, Dragon Days and Summer Knights 2011 A.D. Herzog brought the puppets to life on stage, giving each a distinct personality and character by masterfully manipulating nearly 20 strings simultaneously.
Snork, a purple dragon with small wings, roller-skated backward and forward between the maroon velvet stage curtains. He twirled, jumped and batted his eyelashes while children applauded.
Snork’s parents, George and Martha, had golden spikes on their foreheads and pointed teeth on their snouts. Their green feathery hair swayed as the two-headed dragon sang a love song.
Later, Frederick Wilhelm Von Drops-a-Lot of Germany tried to juggle two balls. Dressed in red and yellow satin, pointy hat and curly-tipped shoes, he counted in German as he tried to toss the balls without losing them.
Various acrobats entertained the crowd. Sir Timothy Twinkle Toes walked across a tightrope. His hands and legs shook as he tried to balance on one leg and perform other stunts.Wong Loo, a Chinese marionette clad in orange silk, walked on his hands.
Lady Ekaterina Flyzanova from Russia donned a shiny blue and red jumpsuit with lace sleeves. She swung high on a trapeze, hung upside down by her toes and flew through the air with impressive skill.
Molly Grimes, 11, is participating in the children’s reading program. She attended the show with her sister, Hannah, 9, and brother, Liam, 7.
“I liked the show a lot,” Molly said. “I liked the trapeze artist and how (Herzog) swung her around. I also liked the skating dragon and how he would lift up one foot. He did that really well.”
A magic trick was performed by Merlin the Magnificent. As the children shouted “abracadabra,” the wizard’s purple robe turned inside out to reveal a large white rabbit.
Later, Walter, a baby basset hound, wagged his tail and tongue as he walked among crowd and was petted by the children.
Richie Grutsch, 9, watched the show with his brother, Jimmie, 7.
“My favorite was the dog, Walter,” Richie said. “He kept putting his ears up. It was so cute. I don’t have a dog, but I want one.”
The summer reading program ends July 22. At an upcoming event, children will perform a skit with dragon puppets they created during an improvisation workshop at the library.