On Friday, June 18th and Saturday, June 19th, 2009 I performed excerpts from Bride of Wildenstein – The Musical at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. In Bride of Wildenstein – The Musical, an aging socialite grows fur and claws to recapture the attention of her philandering game hunter husband. The performances were part of the National Puppetry Conference where I was an emerging artist that year.
For the Friday viewing, I performed Stuffed and Mounted, and Cash the Check in the Dina Merrill Theatre. For the Saturday viewing, I performed Stuffed and Mounted, Cash the Check, and Pump that Pussy at Blue Gene’s Pub. In this iteration, music was composed by Josh Senick with costumes by Rachel Weir.
In Stuffed and Mounted, I played the protagonist,, Jocelyn Wildenstein on my front side, and her philandering game hunter husband, Alec on the back. In Cash The Check, Jocelyn’s pet monkey, May Moon, sings a cheerful song about retail therapy after Jocelyn has walked in on Alec (an adult baby) getting his diapers changed by another woman. In Pump that Pussy, Jocelyn Wildenstein, finds herself amidst an illegal junk yard pumping party, after being estranged from her husband. She encounters a rat doctor with a caulking gun he uses to inject partiers with non-medical grade silcone, a worried pigeon recovering from a beak job, and a cockraoch who has gotten his thorax pumped.
Described as “demented, touching, and inherently strange” by Flavorpill (Los Angeles), Bride of Wildenstein was a weird and tragic love story that examined the making of a monstrosity through one woman’s personal struggle, and the loss of her sense of self.
As her marriage dissolves, she begins to reinvent herself through drastic measures – surgical procedures to become more feline, which only further heighten her sense of estrangement. The heroine’s story is loosely inspired by tabloid accounts of the real-life “cat woman”, Jocelyn Wildenstein. In it I hoped to gently turn the abrasive glare of the mirror onto the face of the audience and pose the question, Have you ever gone too far for love?
Also featured in the program at the 2009 National Puppetry Conference were fellow emerging artists, Zach Dorn and Spencer Lott, and artist-in-residence Jane Henson and Heather Henson.
The internationally-acclaimed Eugene O’Neill Theater Center is dedicated to encouraging and furthering the creative impulse which is at the heart of all theatrical expression – and the puppet arts are no exception. In 1964, the pioneering American puppetry team (and Waterford residents) Rufus and Margo Rose helped founding director George C. White establish the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. This began a long-standing tradition of puppetry at the O’Neill Center, which continued through the efforts of puppet artist Bart Roccoberton. In 1990, Jane Henson established the Rose Endowment for Puppetry to support an annual puppetry conference – thus paying tribute to the Rose’s influential work – and to assure the continuing presence of puppetry at the O’Neill Center. George Latshaw was the Artistic Director for the conference’s inaugural year, followed by Richard Termine from 1992-2003, and Pam Arciero from 2003 to the present.