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Backyard puppet shows enchant families in Sellwood

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Enchantra the Witch looks for her missing gift.Although their 140-year-old historical storefront is off the beaten path in old Sellwood, “Ping-Pong's Pint-size Puppet Museum” has seen more than 7,000 visitors to date, according to its proprietor, Steven Overton.

And, now, the Olde World Puppet Theater is in its second season of presenting live performances in the building’s backyard garden theater.

“Visitors kept asking us to do a live show,” Overton told THE BEE. “But the museum is quite small – that is why it's called pint-sized! So, we rearranged our backyard, put up a stage, sound system, and shade, and created a theater that very comfortably seats 50 people.”

The Saturday matinee on June 29 featured “The Enchanted Ring” from “Tales of Belvuria”. “It is the second show I ever wrote, and performed live for thirty years as a play. Then, we wrote it as a children’s book. Now, we’ve taken that children’s book and adapted it into a play.”

His partner, Marty Richmond, helps set up the stage, and also provides the voice characterizations of several cast members, including Ping-Pong the Panda. He also handles box office duties.

“The best part of this for me,” Overton said, “is having people experience puppetry, performed live, with their families. It’s the kids and their families coming here together and having a great time.”

Starting in the second week in August, they’ll be presenting “Baby Dragon Finds a Job” – set to the operatic music of “Carmen”.

Ping Pong's Pint Sized Puppet Museum of Portland is located at 906 S.E. Umatilla Street in Sellwood. Call 503/233-7723 for reservations; for more information go online to: www.puppetmuseum.com/