ADVENTURES OF MAYA THE BEE
Culture Project’s charming puppet show “The Adventures of Maya
the Bee” is now in its second year. It’s a must-see for preschoolers
to age 6 and accompanying adults— how often does a young kid’s
show combine rod and shadow puppets and a jazz score that would
make Miles Davis tap his toes?
The story’s star is a rebellious little bee who has no desire
to stay in the hive and so flies off to savor the honey beyond
and ends up saving her bee community. The narrative also teaches
kids some of the why’s and wherefore’s of life outside the hive.
All the puppet characters Maya meets display a wide range of human
frailties, from irritability to vulgarity. Nor do they express
the least interest in their spunky, but gentle visitor, which
contrasts with her hive’s camaraderie.
Brainchild of renowned jazz artist Nancy Harmon, the show brings
to life a beloved German children’s book. The production features
an amazing array of puppets designed by Zofia Czechlewska and
constructed by Polish craftsmen at the Teatr Baj and Eli Worden.
The music and lyrics by Ms. Harmon, arranged by Sir Roland Hanna
and sung by the composer and jazz headliners Daryl Sherman and
Grady Tate, go a long way toward making this story a special treat,
featuring sophisticated jazz numbers. Behind the show ‘s success
also are veteran puppeteer Nancy Shaw and a handful multi-talented
actors and musicians.
In addition to the independent Maya, about a dozen marvelous puppets
include a dark moth suffering from low-self esteem; a Dragonfly
resembling May West, and a hornet mourning a lost love among others.
At a recent performance, kids laughed most when the cloddish dung
beetle rolled over and couldn’t right himself. The nasty spider
rated a few boos and oohs greeted the splendiferous Queen Bee’s
golden robes. Kids also enjoy a happy ending when Maya saves her
hive from hornets and is finally rewarded with a hero’s hearty
welcome home. Audience members get to ask questions after the
show.#(Saturdays, 2 p.m., the Bleecker Street Theater, 45 Bleecker
St., East Village, $15; $7 for children. Reservations: 212-539-6644.)
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