2 girls and 8 puppets make kids laugh


When Amy Davidson was 9, she made a Muppet-style puppet called Louis. Louis was as zany a fellow as Amy could make him.

Four years later, Amy and her friend Tammy Robrecht, both 13, have brought Louis to church. They've made Louis a sister, grandparents, friends and animals, eight puppets in all. Since June, they've been giving weekly puppet shows at St. Mark's United Church of Christ in Snydersburg, upon the invitation of the pastor, the Rev. James Schwarzlose.

These teens call themselves "The Good News Gang." Blake Leedy, in eighth grade, and Heather Jeness, in 10th, become puppeteers, too, when extra hands are needed.

They slip their show between the 8 a.m. Lutheran service and the 10:15 a.m. United Church of Christ service. Puppets, singing and refreshments begin at 9:15 a.m.

Every Sunday through August the public, especially children, is welcome to attend the show. The church is on Cape Horn Road in Snydersburg.

Amy and Tammy did their first show about four weeks ago, during the closing program of the church Bible school.

"The kids enjoyed it so much they begged Amy and Tammy to bring the puppets on Sunday," said Sheryl Davidson, Amy's mother. "When they saw kids were really interested in the shows, I found a book of plays."

Using scripts from that book -- "Peppy Puppet Presentations" -- Amy and Tammy give weekly shows of three 5-minute plays. Between plays, the audience sings Sunday school songs. Afterward, a children's craft relates to that week's puppet stories.

The puppet shows convey moral themes in comedy.

"Values, honesty, kindness to others and to love one another" are some themes, said Mrs. Davidson. "There is a truly religious background, but the plays don't act out the biblical story."

In one play, shown last Sunday, Louis told a fish story that got bigger and bigger. He finally got caught in the exaggeration by his mother, who knew exactly how big the fish was.

The mother puppet said, "I heard you caught a whale. I think I'll call you Jonah." Louis responded with, "Well, we did have a whale of a good time."

Another play depicted pig-tailed Susie puppet saying honest, yet hurtful, things to friends and family. She soon was told that "Sometimes there are things that don't need to be said. Speak the truth in love," by her grandmother puppet.

During the sing-along between shows, the puppets frolic on stage, singing loudly off-key. When shooed away by acting stage manager Mrs. Davidson, the puppets pop out of the curtain, or from an opening beneath the stage, intent on continuing the raucous rendition.

Typically, after the weekly show, the puppeteers help children in the audience make their own puppets from folded paper bags.

"Each week usually has a theme," said Tammy. "Last week, we made 'Lovey the Lamb' paper bag puppets. Lovey can say only nice things."

"Prayer bears help you say your prayers," added Mrs. Davidson, about the project from a previous week.

Amy, who lives in Hampstead, and Tammy, who is from Manchester, are members of the Carroll Clovers 4-H Club, where Amy's interest is public speaking and Tammy concentrates her activities on child care. These seemed to crystalize into their puppet shows for children.

Both joined the "Kids on the Block" puppet group last fall. Kids on the Block uses life-size puppets to teach empathy for children with disabilities. As puppeteers, Amy and Tammy wear black bodysuits, with their puppet double attached on the front. They toured elementary schools to give the shows.

Both teen-agers will enter North Carroll High School in September. They've already acquired about 300 hours of community service, partly through puppeteering. They hope that amassing service hours will help toward winning scholarships.

Information: Mr. Schwarzlose, 848-1313.


Recently profiled in this column, Carol J. Fertitta, in Millers, has organized the Home-Based Workers Network that anyone may join.

How to contact Mrs. Fertitta was left out.

"There are opportunities out there for people to build all kinds of businesses. Home-based business is where people want to be," says Mrs. Fertitta. She'll be happy to talk with you.

You can contact the Home-Based Workers Network at 4011 York Road #1, Millers, MD 21107, or call Mrs. Fertitta at 239-2255.

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