The innovative HT@MTC Performance Incubator will premiere Planet Hopping, a full-length puppet musical with live music by the “kindie rock” band, Lunch Money, on November 15 and 16 at Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College. Co-produced by Belle et Bête Productions, the one-of-a-kind show will feature skillfully crafted puppets, inventive set design and songs composed specifically for the musical, creating an interplanetary rock ‘n’ roll adventure that kids and parents alike will enjoy.
The HT@MTC Performance Incubator provides a stage for local professional artists who show potential for enhanced full-time artistic careers. Puppeteers Lyon Hill and Kimi Maeda, the artists behind Belle et Bête, are two of Columbia’s strongest examples. Hill and Maeda, known for their creative and deeply moving productions, have worked to increase the local profile of puppet shows, including producing the Spork in Hand Puppet Slam at The Indie Grits Festival.
The puppets in Planet Hopping — and the audience — will rock out to music performed live by Lunch Money, a local band beloved for making “indie music for the whole family.” An evening show, at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 15, will be followed by a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013.
“The HT@MTC Performance Incubator is thrilled to highlight the artistic excellence of Belle et Bête and Lunch Money by placing Planet Hopping in our 2013-2014 season,” says Director of Theatre Operations Katie Fox. “Both companies can hold their own with the best of professional performing arts for family audiences.”
The incubator provides technical production support and professional expertise to the performers’ process as they produce brand new shows that premiere at Harbison Theatre, but that also tour the region indefinitely. The tour provides ongoing professional employment for the performers, furthering Midlands Technical College’s mission of making fulfilling professional lives attainable for local residents. Last season’s Incubator show, Story Squad, has performed more than half a dozen times since its premiere.
“Planet Hopping faces some special challenges during the design process,” notes Hill. “This show will premiere at Harbison Theatre, but it is intended to tour to other theatres throughout the country. We know the show’s first stop on the road, and its stage is much smaller than at Harbison.” Hill continues, “Set designer Kimi Maeda had to build models of both theatres in order to make sure her design was feasible and easy to set up and to pack into a van or truck.”
Adds Hill, “Planet Hopping incorporates live and recorded video in addition to several different types of puppets, so the performers will be above, below, in front of and behind each set piece.” He quips, “It’s a good thing Kimi has a Master’s Degree in Scenography (theatrical design)!”
Planet Hopping will take the audience on a rocket ship voyage from Earth to the stars, exploring the mysteries of the planets and the importance of family. The show will use several different types of puppets — rod puppets, mask puppets, marionettes — for the interactive journey through the solar system. Of course the adventure is about fun, but there’s also much to learn.
“It’s been an incredibly collaborative process, from the initial decision to create an interplanetary adventure, to the research and development,” Maeda says. “We’re all learning so much from each other and are so eager to explore new techniques that it seems appropriate that we should be focusing on a scientific field where mind-blowing discoveries are being made every day.”
Says Fox, “Though the storytelling may be astronomical, the heart of the tale is one that will make audiences feel right at home.”
Harbison Theatre’s 2013-2014 Signature Season features eleven shows, hand-selected by Fox and her team. View the entire season here: http://www.harbisontheatre.org/2013-2014-season/
Performances of Planet Hopping are on November 15 at 7 p.m. and November 16 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at www.HarbisonTheatre.org.
Overview of Season Ticketing Features:
- The Flex Pass: Purchase tickets to four or more shows and receive a 10% discount on each ticket. On sale through Feb. 14, 2014 at http://www.harbisontheatre.org.
- Group discounts for ten or more guests – perfect for scout troops and youth groups!
Tickets can be purchased at www.HarbisonTheatre.org. Buyers may also order tickets via phone at 803-407-5011, or in person at the Harbison Theatre Box Office, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The box office also will open two hours prior to each show during the season.