Season Two of Blueberry’s Clubhouse is almost here! We can’t wait for you to meet all the new characters, both human and puppet alike. The AMFA Children’s Theatre team has a lot of experience costuming actors to play multiple characters; in Season Two of Blueberry’s Clubhouse, we put those skills to the test with puppets.
This season we meet Blueberry’s parents, Huckleberry and Juneberry, as well as her Uncle Boysenberry, Huckleberry’s brother, and her Aunt Gooseberry, Juneberry’s sister. That’s four new puppet characters! How do we make that happen and stay within our budget? With the age-old trick of the theatre trade… costume changes!
As siblings who came from the same berry bush, Huckleberry will resemble his brother, Boysenberry, and Juneberry will resemble her sister, Gooseberry. So, using the same puppet for both siblings was a no-brainer. Now for the hard part… How do we make one puppet look different enough to pull off being two separate characters? The same way we would on stage with an actor.
It starts by identifying each character’s individual personality traits. Huckleberry likes to tackle problems head on, and he is always prepared to lend a helping hand. Uncle Boysenberry is a bit more of a dreamer. He is an artist and likes to help solve the more abstract, non-tangible problems. Juneberry is the down-to-earth, nurturing mother, while her sister Gooseberry is the high-flying adventurer of the family.
Next, we find costume pieces to help accentuate each character’s personality. For Huckleberry, that means playing up the dad vibes by dressing him in a polo shirt and slacks. A long sleeve button down and an apron help distinguish Uncle Boysenberry as an artist. Juneberry wears a soft purple dress to emphasize the warm cuddly feelings associated with a mother, while Gooseberry’s rough and tumble energy is represented with a leather bomber jacket. But we can’t stop there. The puppets would still look too similar.
Changing accessories and hair are key elements in completing a character transformation through costumes. Huckleberry gets glasses and a fanny pack for his tools; Boysenberry gets a painter’s palette, curly wig, and facial hair. As Juneberry, the puppet gets a pearl necklace and earrings, and a cute purse, while Gooseberry gets a white scarf, pilot helmet and goggles, and a light pink bobbed wig.
Bingo! You now have a handyman dad, an artistic uncle, a supportive mother, and a high-spirited aunt. Two puppets, four distinct characters.
And you can get in on the dress-up play too! Puppet designer, Erin Larkin, has turned her renderings into paper dolls for you to dress up. Have fun changing Huckleberry into Boysenberry, Juneberry into Gooseberry, or mix it up and see what new characters you can imagine. You can even put your own design skills to the test and draw new costume pieces for your paper dolls.
The Children’s Theatre team at AMFA had so much fun creating the new season of Blueberry’s Clubhouse with Arkansas PBS, and we hope you have just as much fun watching it. Blueberry’s Clubhouse airs Friday mornings on Arkansas PBS and on demand.
– Liz McMath, Children’s Theatre and Performing Arts Associate Artist