Saving the Marionette Theater

Love the long-time puppet theatre near downtown? You can lend it a hand.

Aline Smithson

Puppets? They're instant laugh-makers for the under-10 set. Okay, and the way-over-10 set, too.

But the laughs were few at the start of this summer when we learned that Bob Baker, one of the most famous puppeteers in the puppeteering business, had plans to shutter and sell his downtown-adjacent theater, the very venue thousands of Angelenos had passed a happy afternoon at for over a half century.

The reasons? Financial, in a word. But marionette mavens here and everywhere were determined not to get all tangled in strings of despair about the news; a fundraising campaign to save the theater was established, with the kick-off happening on Sunday, July 29.

Mr. Baker will be in the house, of course, as well as one of his most vocal local champions: history entertainer Charles Phoenix. Start time is 4 p.m. and the place? Why the theater everyone would very much like to see stay with Mr. Baker.

Bob Baker's Celebration & Preservation Extravaganza -- more fundraisers should hook onto such upbeat titles -- promises, in italics, "a rare and exciting afternoon of live puppet magic!" Please. Whatever your weekend plans are, can they live up to those italics? We're not going to raise eyebrows here.

Beginning ticket price is $75, but there are more and bigger and glittier ways to lend a hand to the puppet theater that regularly gets written about in publications like the New York Times and beyond.

Who should help? If you loved these famous marionettes as a tot, or if you have kids that should see live, old-time theater, or if you don't like seeing local slices of LA fade away, the answer is an obvious one.

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