By Marcy Stamper
The Wonderheads theater troupe creates fantastic performances using expressive movement and huge masks that nearly cover the actors’ heads – but no words – to tell stories in a distinctive and whimsical way. Some people say watching a Wonderheads performance is like seeing a cartoon come to life – kind of a live version of Toy Story or Finding Nemo.
When Wonderheads Theatre comes to Winthrop next week, Methow Valley audiences will have an opportunity to see a style of theater rarely performed in this country. Wonderheads’ performances combine evocative soundscapes, dancelike physical moves, and slapstick humor, all woven together through the time-honored art of puppetry.
The actors in the Portland-based troupe have studied traditional puppetry and theater around the world. Each expressive papier-mâché mask – which Wonderheads artists make themselves – takes between 50 and 80 hours to create.
Wonderheads will be performing their original show Grim and Fischer, a comedy about growing older. It’s a moving and funny story about a grandmother who comes face to face with the Grim Reaper and confronts him with her determination to live. The show has won several theater and festival awards and is suitable for ages 10 and above.
“Anyone who has lost someone they loved should expect to be deeply moved by this imaginative encounter with the Grim Reaper,” said one reviewer about the show. “You will stand in awe that two mimes in masks can evoke such powerful feelings.”
In addition to their public performance, the Wonderheads will travel to six schools in the county to work directly with students. For the school shows, the troupe will perform Middle of Everywhere, a story about a man who starts out expecting a perfectly normal day, only to find himself on an adventure with an 11-year-old who appeared at his bus stop that morning. The show takes the two on a surprising journey through time and space, forcing them to confront their fears as they struggle to find their way home.
The Wonderheads’ Grim and Fischer production, sponsored by Methow Arts, is Saturday, April 23, at 7 p.m. in the Winthrop Barn. Tickets are $16 in advance and $20 at the door for adults, and $5 for ages 5 to 17. Reserved seats in the first four rows are available for $25.
Tickets are available at Riverside Printing in Winthrop and Methow Arts in Twisp, or online at brownpapertickets.com.