Halloween and Christmas were the two seasons when we had the greatest demand for puppet shows, so the fall was always our busy time. It was also becoming difficult to accept gigs which conflicted with Hugh’s workdays or the girls’ extra-curricular activities. When we performed Katie’s Halloween Adventure during a schoolday for Parkwood Manor in Coquitlam, Hugh and I set the show up the evening before, and then I took Marcella with me to perform the next day since both Caroline and Katie had other activities scheduled. Marcella and I were happy to see how well the show was received by the seniors. It was a deliciously satirical take on Phantom of the Opera, and Katie, although not present as a puppeteer, was present on the soundtrack and had done a lovely job on her voiceovers.
In November, the new Shadbolt Arts Centre opened in Burnaby and we had been invited to perform along with many other Burnaby groups. I had been heavily involved in the early stages of the upgrade to the Burnaby Arts Centre, and the lobbying process had begun to bear fruit when I was president of the Burnaby Arts Council. Therefore, it was gratifying to be performing at the opening of the new facility. Hugh and I had gone one step further, and Elwoodettes Marionettes was also to be the first group to rent the new studio theatre. We had booked it for December 23 and planned to give a public performance of Babes in the Wood. This rental was proving an expensive proposition, so we were glad we had a lot of paid gigs coming up as well.
Before we knew it, Christmas was approaching. We issued our usual invitation for the Second Street School teachers to bring classes to our final dress rehearsal. This was a great field trip for the kids and easy for the teachers since our home was only two blocks from the school. The visit was fun for us too since the teachers always had their classes draw pictures and write letters afterwards, and we loved seeing the children’s comments.
Come December, there were numerous performances of Guard Dog in Concert. There were private parties; office parties for companies like Nissan or Motorola; hospital or senior-home shows; Rotary club bookings; not to mention the Burnaby Village Museum. In retrospect, I wonder how we had the energy to do so many shows. On one weekend we set up one theatre at the Village Museum in the morning, then set our other theatre up at Parkwood manor in the evening. On the Saturday morning, we performed the show at Parkwood Manor, then did two afternoon shows at the Village Museum, after which we struck all the gear and transported it to the BC Government Employee’s Union headquarters for shows which were to be performed on the Sunday.
Amidst all these gigs, we were rehearsing Babes for the Shadbolt show. Needless to say, Max did a lot of bows and ate a lot of cookies. Even when the gigs were booked for places he couldn’t attend, he always made sure he got his share of the loot during rehearsals. However, Max did get to come with us for our final paid gig that month. The Pender Harbour Lion’s Club had so enjoyed the summer shows that they had offered to pay our way up the Coast and have us do a show at their Christmas Party. That proved a long day. We took the early ferry to Langdale and reached Pender Harbour mid-morning. The girls walked Max while Hugh and I set up the theatre in the community hall. We lunched and napped in our motorhome—even Max was glad to curl up and close his eyes—then performed the show for an enthusiastic audience at two-thirty. After that, we struck our set and came home via the six-thirty ferry, leaving Max with his motorhome dinner while we all trooped up to the cafeteria to eat. For once, Max did not look put out to be left on his own. Puppet dog had had a long day.