Turnabout Theatre

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The Turnabout Theatre existed in Hollywood, CA., from 1941 through 1956.[1] Regularly selling out all seats--attracting both the general public as well as many of Hollywood's top stars--it offered entertainment that combined both puppets (marionettes) for the first half of a show and a stage revue for the second half.[2]

The name of the theater derives in part from the fact that the theater seats were former streetcar seat that could be turned to face a puppet stage at one end or the live revue stage at the other.[3] Adjacent seats were labeled with humorous names (e.g., "Hot 'n Bothered," "Salt 'n Pepper," etc.), and after intermission theater-goers would "turn about" to see the show continued at the opposite end of the house.[4]

The Theater originated with a group known as the Yale Puppeteers composed notably of Forman Brown, Harry Burnett,[5] and Richard (Roddy) Brandon. Many artists, some quite well known or soon to be well known also participated, including Odetta and Elsa Lanchester, whose brother Waldo Lanchester was a famous puppeteer in the UK.[4]

The history of the theater is documented in the film, Turnabout: the Story of the Yale Puppeteers, directed by Dan Bessie (a nephew of Harry Burnett). Brown wrote a book about the puppet troupe,[6] and Bessie discussed the puppeteers in his memoir of his family, Rare Birds.[4]

Prior to opening Turnabout Theatre, the puppeteers had toured with their shows.[6] Their puppets also appeared in the 1933 film I Am Suzanne.[7]

Harry Burnett was the brother of advertising executive Leo Burnett.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Blumentha, Eileen (2005), Puppetry: A World History, Harry N. Abrams, p. 91, ISBN 0-8109-5587-3 
  2. ^ "Elsa's Gazebo", Time, May 24, 1948 
  3. ^ Goslar, Lotte (1998), What's So Funny?: Sketches from My Life, Taylor & Francis, p. 75, ISBN 978-90-5702-177-0 
  4. ^ a b c d Bessie, Dan (November 2000), Rare Birds, University Press of Kentucky, ISBN 978-0-8131-2179-6 
  5. ^ "Harry Burnett, Master Of Puppetry, Dies at 92", New York Times, 1993-06-01 
  6. ^ a b Brown, Forman (1980), Small Wonder : the story of the Yale Puppeteers and the Turnabout Theatre, Scarecrow Press, ISBN 0-8108-1334-3 
  7. ^ Slide, Anthony (2003), Lost Gay Novels: A Reference Guide to Fifty Works from the First Half of the Twentieth Century, Haworth Press, p. 129, ISBN 978-1-56023-414-2 

External links[edit]