Did you know that puppet shows are popping up all over Portland? Puppet shows are a special, entertaining activity to enjoy with kids; and the beauty of them is that they are enjoyed by infants, toddlers, and older children alike — so parents can please their clan of all age ranges in one fell swoop! And puppet shows go on during rain or shine, so they’re a perky pick-me-up on rainy days. Read on to see where there’s a small curtain opening up to a new world near you…

Penny’s Puppet Productions
Master puppeteer Penny Walter is at the helm of this one-woman puppet company which presents clever, funny, well-written shows to kids of all ages (even parents will chuckle at the witty dialogue). Penny (pictured) writes all of her ‘mini-musical’ puppet shows which last between 30 and 45 minutes and feature catchy tunes and personable puppets who interact with the audience. Click here for upcoming show dates in Portland and throughout Oregon.

Tears of Joy Theater
Currently in its 40th season, the Tears of Joy Theater is gearing up to present their 2011-2012 family series of sophisticated puppet shows which commences with the classic, Pinocchio. This summer, engage your kids in the art of puppetry through the theater’s summer camp offerings which include puppet construction and performance and mask and circus performance. Click here for the theater’s upcoming schedule of shows.

Ladybug Theater
The oldest live theater in the Portland area, Ladybug Theater puppet shows are presented at The Smile Station in Sellwood. Designed to teach young children the manners required to be a reserved member of an audience, be advised that shows at the Ladybug Theater, while entertaining and engaging, are meant to be enjoyed quietly by kids, unless they are called upon to get involved. These shows are a bargain too. $3.50 per person and babes in arms are free. Visit the website for current show information.

Dragon Theater Puppets
The Dragon Theater presents unique and educational puppet shows based on multiple themes including science-fiction, history, and environmentalism. Founded by Jason Ropp, who began puppeteering at age sixteen, knights, dragons and damsels abound in these performances, which are centered around classic fairytale characters. Click here for a current schedule of shows.

Oregon Shadow Theater
This company duo, both of whom have been performing for over 30 years, Deb Chase, puppeteer and Mick Doherty, musician, practice the oldest form of puppetry in the world: shadow puppetry. Kids and adults will be enchanted and astounded by the artistry behind these shows, which are brought to light and life in the darkness. Mark your calendar to experience their only outdoor show this year in the Sandy River Gorge.

—Beth Shea