Winter Dreams at In The Heart Of The Beast Puppet And Mask Theatre

Winter Dreams at Heart Of The Beast. Photo by Bruce Silcox.

“Leaves leaving the branches… Winter is coming…” such is the opening line to this delightful winter’s tale chanted in ethereal tones reminding the audience that the curtain has just raised on the opening act of this region’s coldest of seasons. While there are several holiday shows vying for attention this time of year Winter Dreams (at In the Heart of the Beast Theatre through December 30) is truly a visually stunning reminder of the magic of wintertime.

Last performed in 2000, this visceral tour-de-force is brought to life by a well-honed cast and production team under the taut direction of Alison Helmstead. Winter Dreams examines the hibernation habits of native Minnesota animals utilizing live music provided by Sean Egan and Jim Parker that underscores these well-drawn scenes and a wide array of puppetry styles. This magical look at the behind-the-scenes of this winter wonderland has at the heart of its story a wolf cub that becomes separated from its pack and wanders through this treacherous terrain encountering the magical creatures that inhabit this world (the jack rabbit, the bear and a hilarious trio of squirrels who provide the comic relief) in the midst of Mother Nature’s lush white landscape as he tries to make his way back home. What this piece does really well is capture not just the beauty of winter, but also the treachery, isolation, and sustenance that it provides.

The production team does an amazing job at creating the snow globe like atmosphere that pulsates through this production. Iridescent geese fly through the aisles replete with sound effects provided by their puppeteers and a larger than life snow puppet appropriately enough makes a special appearance in the “First Snowfall” scene. Ms. Helmstead provides fantastic direction by providing a sweeping experience of this wondrous world throughout each corner of the theater that becomes blanketed with fancy like a fresh snowfall.

Ms. Helmstead is aided by a crack team of designers—George Meyers (lighting design), Jim Parker (musical director), Duane Tougas (set design)—on video Blake Love, Angela Olson, and David Steinman—puppet designers Gustavo Boada, Kate Brehm, Soozin Hirschmugl, Jim Koplin, D. Blake Love, Amber Moore, Olli, Mark Safford, Sandy Spieler, and Matt Weathers.

Winter Dreams is ideal for children and adults of all ages who want to discover the beauty and wonder that happens during those long, dark months of the year.

This show is approximately 70 minutes with one intermission. Highly recommended.



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