EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — If you grew up in Los Angeles, chances are you have fond memories of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater. The 57 year old theater successfully moved to a new space last year, but then it was forced to close due to the pandemic.
Now, it is doing everything it can to keep the magic alive. The Bob Baker Marionette Theater sees the world as a birthday cake.
"It is like frosted in imagination, it is designed with intent, it is a shared dish that is shared across generations, sprinkled with stardust," said the Executive Director and Head Puppeteer of Bob Baker Marionette Theater Alex Evans.
The theater opened in the 1960s, but Bob Baker was doing puppet shows in the 1930s.
"It is as fun for a five-year-old as it is a 95-year-old, and a lot of our puppet numbers they have hints of vaudeville, maybe a little bit of burlesque," said the Director of Development and Community Partnerships, Bob Baker Marionette Theater, Winona Bechtle. "It's all stuff that would be fun for a kid, but it speaks to everybody a little bit because of our 70 plus-year history programming. I hear more and more people coming into the theater saying that their kids walk in with an iPad or a cellphone and didn't look at it for the entire show. I think the total emersion, the lights, the darkness of the theater, the crazy music — nothing can really compete with it."
After the theater moved to a new space last year, they had about four months of full shows before they had to shut down because of COVID-19.
"Some of the ways we've pivoted during coronavirus has been with Zoom shows. We've converted a box truck into a mobile puppet theater; we started making commercial puppets again for sale — so we have our Bobo's that haven't been sold in decades, and even digital birthday greetings," added Bechtle.
Even with all the work the staff has been doing, their financial future is still at risk.
"We launched a fundraising campaign to try and cover our anticipated losses for next year, being $360,000," said Bechtle. "Right now, we are about halfway to our goal, which is incredible. That pretty much gets us to June, so every $30,000 we raise gets us another month."
Due to County restrictions, the peek-a-boo stroll-thru is currently closed, but for updates on their Zoom shows and their fundraising campaign visit bobbakermarionettetheater.com.