The Bob Baker Marionette Theatre in Echo Park is, without a doubt, a Los Angeles staple. The theatre hosts shows and events featuring the most talented puppeteers and the most uniquely decorated handmade marionettes.
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Though the theatre caters primarily to young audiences, adults have consistently raved about the performances, and some even consider it a “psychedelic” experience, thanks largely in part to the off-beat soundtracks, wacky themes, and dizzying light show, and sounds.
The puppeteers are ultra-interactive and use the entire theatre as their playground, moving through the throngs of people and gliding across the theatre floor. After a while, most people even forget the puppeteers are there. If you’re interested in checking out a show, you’re in for a treat. Here’s a few other things you need to know about the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre in Echo Park:
The Theatre Is Steeped In History
The Bob Baker Marionette Theater has been a part of the Angelino community since 1963. Since then, it has been indicted as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark. Every year, it utilizes over 2,000 puppets and puts on around 200 performances. Today, the theatre is a nonprofit organization, and its goal is to “provide unique theatrical experiences; to educate, celebrate and rejuvenate puppetry and the allied arts.”
They Host An Annual Festival
Since Bob Baker passed away of natural causes at 90 years old in 2014, the theatre has hosted a FREE annual “Bob Baker Day!” festival on his birthday. On February 24th, the fun and carnival-spirit energy spills out onto the street in front of the theatre. Here’s what you can expect during Bob Baker day this year:
- Puppet shows
- Pop-up puppet museum in the theatre
- Arts and crafts booths
- Food trucks
- Exhibition booths from the local community
- Live entertainment
- Family-friendly games
Bob Baker Is A Marionette Legend
Bob Baker (1924-2014) started experimenting with puppeteering when he was just eight years old, and went on to become one of the world’s most renowned puppeteers. Over the course of his career, he served as the animation advisor for several studios, including Disney, and his puppetry work has been featured in several shows and films, including Bewitched, Star Trek, Land of the Giants, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Bob Baker’s marionettes have also performed live around the world––even on submarines and Navy ships.
The Theatre Will Expand In 2018
In a long-term plan to preserve the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre for at least another 50 years, the theatre transitioned into a non-profit organization. The company is currently rebuilding and expanding its theatre to accommodate this new mission. The 2018 construction will rejuvenate the current space, allowing the theatre to remain where it’s always been.
The new space will be based on Bob Baker’s original design sketches for the space, allowing the company to live up to its reputation and founder by fulfilling some of his lifelong dreams for the theatre.
In addition to the renovations, they’ll also be adding a workshop, museum, and educational space to engage with the community. These new facilities will also help foster partnerships with other cultural and educational groups. While the new space is under construction, the organization will be a traveling theatre and continue to host shows and events around Los Angeles. Construction is expected to end late 2018, or early 2019.
Birthday Parties Are Welcome
For a one-of-kind birthday party, the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre is the way to go. The Birthday Party package includes a personalized sheet cake from Hansen’s bakery, drinks, a fully decorated birthday area, balloon festival, and meet-and-greet with the marionettes at the end of the show. The party packages are customizable, and families can add additional party favors for a fee. Though there’s no kitchen access, guests are welcome to purchase and serve their own food.