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Pulling Strings

Puppet makers take cues from kids.

by and

FRI 5/2

Paul Mesner Puppets does something a little different with its latest show, giving a nod to the creative genius flourishing among its young fanbase. Page to Stage Productions, a collection of short plays based on seven winning stories submitted by children in the area (and even one in Athens, Greece), goes on at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. (as well as at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) at Unity Temple on the Plaza (707 W. 47th Street).

"Sometimes [kids] have better ideas than we do," says puppet creator Claire Joyce. Her favorite puppet character is the newly created Wonder Cow. "I'm getting ready to put little platform shoes on it," she says. Wonder Cow also sports makeup and a one-piece body suit, all to the specifications of its ten-year-old conceptualist.

Joyce and fellow puppet maker Callyann Casteel are both graduates of the Kansas City Art Institute, where Joyce studied printmaking but dabbled in costuming -- all of which prepared her to help craft Mesner's puppets. "It involves sewing, painting, sculpting. You need to be able to move quickly from one thing to another." Such variety helps Joyce hold interest in a given puppet -- which probably isn't hard when piecing together characters like Wonder Cow, Dreadlocks and Royal Porcupine.

For tickets ($6), call 816-235-6222. --Sarah Smarsh

A Bee's Life
Lakeside shares its hives.

SAT 5/3

Bees aren't as scary as people think. They're usually too busy to bother stinging people, as the 1 p.m. beekeeping demonstration at Swope Park's Lakeside Nature Center (4701 Gregory) should help impressionable youngsters understand. From inside the nature-center building, kids can look out at a beehive through a huge window, watching as an experienced beekeeper -- clad in special gear that looks like a Ghostbusters uniform -- works with bees to get that honey. Afterward, kids can check out the animals living within the center. (Snakes and owls are more popular with the grade-school set than with their parents.) And the whole family will probably enjoy a trip to the beautiful, nearby Blue River Glade. For information, call 816-513-8960. -- Gina Kaufmann

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