If you’re only going to see one University Theatre show this semester (though I highly recommend them all), let it be Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher.Based on the children’s novel by Bruce Coville, this stage adaptation is making its world premiere at Western Michigan University’s own Shaw Theatre. With breathtaking projections, beautiful puppets and a star-studded student cast, this show is guaranteed to be a fast-paced adventure for any audience member.
My name is Brian Wiegand, and I’m a puppeteer for the show. Here are the four reasons why Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher shouldn’t be missed:
1. Puppets, but not the Pinocchio kind…
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher is filled with animals. Most of these animals are ones that we’re familiar with: two cats, a dog, a monkey, a gerbil and two bunnies. One of the animals, however, is something a little more fantastical: a dragon. These animals are manifested on Shaw’s stage in the form of full contact puppets. This means there are puppeteers like myself in clear sight of the audience bringing the animals to life through controllers directly attached to the puppet’s body. This isn’t your average Pinocchio string marionette; this is The Lion King or War Horse. There is only one way to truly appreciate the wonder of full contact puppets coming to life on stage and that is by witnessing it, making our puppets one of the reasons this show shouldn’t be missed.
2. How many times in your life do you have a chance to see a world premiere?
Never before performed on stage, never before adapted into a play and never before seen by a live audience. Seeing Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher means partaking in a piece of theatre history. Local Kalamazoo playwright Tucker Rafferty adapted Bruce Coville’s novel into a play just for Western’s theatre program to perform. Seeing as we’re the first theatre company to produce it, coming to see one of Jeremy Thatcher’s shows means you’re seeing the world premiere of a play! How often do you get to do that?
3. It might be a children’s novel, but that doesn’t make it a children’s play
Just like any good piece of children’s entertainment, this show is not something that only kids will enjoy. Those who still re-watch old Disney movies know what I’m talking about. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher has charm that few can ignore. Even our often-grumpy technical director melts into a little kid again when he sees the puppets come to life on stage (pictured above). This show is filled with enough fantasy and spectacle for audiences of all ages.
There’s no other word that better describes Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher as a whole. The show is pure magic. “Magic” is a word that gets tossed around a lot when describing pieces of entertainment, but for this show, I don’t use it lightly. Everything about this show is irresistibly immersive, drawing you into a world of complete fantasy and excitement. From things as simple as the way the scenes transition, to things as obvious as the 18-foot-long, 6-person dragon puppet that’ll take your breath away, Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher is embedded with magic at its very core.
Experience the magic of Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher for yourself! It's running at the Gilmore Theatre Complex March 10-19.