The Burnaby Village Museum is a wonderful place to visit during Heritage Christmas. For us, the village has special significance, since we have performed there annually since 1994. Our first gig was a single-day booking when we were eager new puppeteers. We were also the owners of a boisterous new pet, whose image had been recreated as Max, the Ho Hum Husky, and that first booking was the premiere performance of Guard Dog in Concert. Max, the dog, came along with Max, the puppet, and hovered backstage throughout the performance, eagerly awaiting the moment when he would go out to bow with his puppet and receive a cookie as a reward.
As the years rolled on, we continued to perform at the museum. Whatever the weather—frost, rain, wind or blizzards—we made it to Brookfield Hall in time to deliver our shows. The bookings increased to two, and then three days. We put on two half-hour shows a day, and later, a third one was added to accommodate the people who wanted to get in. Max became so seasoned at performing that on one occasion, he anticipated his bow and slipped out to socialize with the audience during the final few minutes of the show. We couldn’t figure out why the audience was laughing more than usual until we realized that the backstage blanket was empty.
As our puppet company grew, we progressed from our rickety old trailer to a grand Wells Cargo version, which the village janitors probably hated as it threatened to tear down all the garlands as we made our way round to the loading door. We developed a second Christmas show, The Fairy Tale that went Wrong, and alternated the shows from year to year. In the early years, our daughters performed with us, and enjoyed touring the museum between shows. More recently, our grandchildren have come to the shows, and we have enjoyed seeing the museum through young eyes all over again. Our original trailer has come full circle too, since the grand Wells Cargo one was stolen in 2009; now the old one is back on the road, doing Trojan service and not offering any danger to the village decorations.
Since the museum started offering free admission for Heritage Christmas, the crowds have grown so large that the longer shows are no longer practical. Now we do eight shorter shows a day, and our booking this year is for seven days. Quite the marathon, so we are very grateful for our cozy backstage area, and make sure we’re equipped with what we need to catch a few minutes rest in between shows. We also venture out and take a turn around the grounds, for the lights seem to grow more brilliant and abundant every year. So if you’re looking for a lovely way to celebrate the Festive Season, come down to the Burnaby Village Museum – and don’t forget to drop in and see the puppets on your way through. Merry Christmas, everyone![box]This year at the museum: Max, the Ho Hum Husky running Dec. 26 – 29, 2015 and Die Fledermaus, the Sequel running Dec. 30, 2015 – Jan. 1, 2016.[/box]