File puptcrit/puptcrit.0612, message 185

Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2006 06:59:05 GMT
Subject: [Puptcrit] Response to Mathieu's question re: VOICE PLACEMENT and

Odetta, the Black American Folk Singer from San Francisco, once helped her mother who was housekeeper for the Turnabout Puppet Theater in Hollywood. Puppeteer Harry Burnett had a wind-up Victrola with 78 rpm Opera recordings which young Odetta listened to for hours at the theater. In time, Harry paid for her singing lessons and I'm told she actually made a recording as a soprano.

So it was a surprise to hear Odetta  as a deep-voiced folk singer in later years. She appeared as a live performer on the people stage at Turnabout Theater and in many other places. She is interviewed in Dan Bessie's film documentary, TURNABOUT.

It took her a while to find her voice placment AFTER singing lessons.

Harry Burnett was Dan's uncle, and Dan's Mom sometimes did costumes for puppets for her puppeteer brother.

Whatever your natural voice placement is, it is important to find it Not everyone is Yma Sumac. And even Yma Sumac has a puppet connection: she appeared on a Sid & Marty Krofft TV Special in the US called "Folderol" with an diverse (DIVERSE) cast including Ricky Nelson, Totie Fields, Micky Rooney, Cyd Charisse, Howard Cossell, Mllt Kamen, and Ann Southern as Queen of the Faire. We had 5 hours of material edited down to 1 hour, with some of the best bits on the cutting room floor.

It was shot at Paramount Studios in Hollywood one February . I was lying on the floor holding a Toby Dog hand puppet up in the air next to some sort of litter bearing  a little person dressed in an Afghan Dog suit and Queen Ann Southern who had gained many pounds since her glory days on film & a popular TV series.  The litter was borne by 4 over-the-hill muscle men from Santa Monica Beach CA. My ear was under a spindly support leg, and the skiiniest muscle man was holding up my corner when he lost his grip--I was within inches of having my brain penetrated through my ear, and it was on my birthday to boot. I had a quick vistion of possible newspaper headlines: Puppeteer's Brain Squashed by Ann Southern  on his Birthday at Paramount Studios. Fortunately the muscle man had a quick reaction and regripped his corner, but the support leg did graze my ear.

There are aspects of puppetry shared with stock car races---you never know when something will come crashing through a fence. At puppet festival late-night parties others have shared similar horror stories of things which almost or did go wrong.

What stories have you puptcritters to share???


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