Courtesy of Alec Zbornak

This weekend, Yale Children’s Theater will stage an original puppet musical written and directed by Alec Zbornak ’21, with music by Charles Romano ’19 and lyrics by Will Wegner ’22.

“Puppet Pioneers” tells the story of Marcie, a young, excited puppet who sets off on a journey to establish the first puppet settlement, El Bravado, with her friends. Zbornak explained that at its core, the show is about kindness and valuing the diverse members of a community. Shows will occur in the Hopper Cabaret on Dec. 7 and 8 at 11 a.m.

“There’s something so powerful when you can have a story that people of all ages can relate to and can affect all people,” Zbornak said.

Zbornak, Romano and Wegner — all members of the improv group Just Add Water — began planning for the musical last semester. Romano and Wegner wrote the songs over the summer. The puppets used in the performance were designed by Lillian Wenker ’22 and handmade by students. Zbornak highlighted the musical talent of the team members.

Wegner explained that Yale Children’s Theater productions offer the audience an opportunity to engage in the performance. The writers built several chances to engage with the story into the script, and audience members will be encouraged to join the dance routine during the show’s final musical number.

According to Zbornak, Yale Children’s Theater endeavors to instill a love for the arts in children from an early age. The group leads acting and improv workshops for children of three separate age groups. The workshops are eight weeks long and take place in both the fall and spring semesters. The group encourages kids to create their own art through the workshops and shows them the possibilities of what they can create through the performances, Zbornak said.

Zbornak said he appreciates the chance to unite families around stories and bring joy to people. He added that Yale Children’s Theater attracts a wide range of audience members and helps bridge the Yale and New Haven communities.

Wenker said that the group offers a “low-stakes, high-rewards way” to create art and contribute to the Yale and New Haven communities. The group allows Yale students to pursue their artistic passions while taking a break from the intense nature of most campus activities, Wenker said.

Through “Puppet Pioneers,” the group is partnering with Camp Kesem, a nationwide organization that supports children whose parents have cancer. Zbornak, who is also a counselor for Camp Kesem, said “Puppet Pioneers” is a good way to merge two student groups that focus on caring for children. The team will invite Camp Kesem students and their families to the performances. Kesem representatives will organize fundraising outside of the show, and a representative will speak at the performance.

Zbornak said he hopes the show will both entertain the audience and convey “a greater message about kindness and acceptance.”

Grace Hopper College is located at 189 Elm St.

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