Puppet show educates, entertains

Sherman the Pelican with Heidi Shackleford the puppeteer. (Submitted photo)

Sherman the Pelican with Heidi Shackleford the puppeteer. (Submitted photo)

By Mark Ambrogi

Peewinkle’s Puppet Studio’s main purpose is to entertain children, but there is also an educational aspect.

The studio will present the “Peewinkle Goes Fishing” puppet show Sept. 16 through 25 (with no shows on Sept. 21-22) at 25 E. Henry St. in Indianapolis.

Peggy Melchoir said this show is attractive to teachers because the show is designed educational under-the sea adventure introduces children to different types of sea life, such as octopus, jelly fish and sea horses. The show is designed for ages 2 through 8. Tickets are $8. Those 2 and under are admitted free.

“It’s primarily for pre-schoolers,” Melchoir said. ”It’s a 28-minute show. We have optional workshop for people who want to stay after. It’s primarily for Mom’s groups or preschools. There are lot of different style of puppets in it and we’ve made everything. We’ve built the set and built the puppets. We’ve made the soundtrack.”

Melchoir was born into the business. In the early 1950s, her late mother, Erica, a German immigrant, started the Melchoir Marionettes in Lorain, Ohio.

In 1972, Melchoir brought the business to the Indianapolis area. In 1983, she opened The Melchoir Marionette Theater in Nashville, Ind., operating four months a year. In 1997, Melchoir and partner Debi White opened the Indianapolis studio. Peewinkle is a gnome puppet. Melchoir serves as artistic director and puppeteer. Debbi White serves as executive director and puppeteer. Melchoir’s daughter, Heidi Shackleford, also provides technical help and serves as a puppeteer. Shackleford is former Carmel High School art teacher.

“We may have the longest running family marionette company in the United States,” Melchoir said. “We’re getting close to our fourth generation as my granddaughter (Nevi) is 11 and performs with us on occasion.”

The puppets also will make its annual appearance at Penrod Arts Fair on Sept. 12at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Tickets for the “Peewinkle Goes Fishing” and a schedule of dates and times are available at peewinklepuppets.org.