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Puppets portray a classic holiday tale

Mark Carrigan and his wife have put on puppet shows about elephants, about bullying, and about dragons and princesses.

It's simple: If there is a play or story out there that the two of them like, they turn it into a puppet show.

The couple behind the Schenectady-based Puppet People are both big fans of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. But when they first considered turning the tale of Christmas past, present and future into a puppet show, they had reservations.

"All of our other shows are good all year long," Carrigan said. "It takes us a year to build a show. Was it worth the investment to do a show we could only perform for about a month?"

Before he and his wife, Michelle Smith-Carrigan, took the leap and made all the puppets and sets for the show, they approached schools and theaters where they had performed to gauge interest in "A Christmas Carol." The response was strong. So Carrigan and Smith-Carrigan got busy building Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, Ebeneezer Scrooge and other characters and working on the show's script.

That was five years ago.

"A Christmas Carol" has been a part of the Puppet People's repertoire ever since. They take the show on the road -- they have a weeklong engagement in Philadelphia next month -- and they perform it throughout the Capital District. On Sunday, Nov. 30, they'll be at Old Songs in Voorheesville for a 3 p.m. show.

It's the third year they've appeared at Old Songs -- a favorite venue of Carrigan's because he likes taking his puppets to small towns that aren't overflowing with entertainment options.

Andy Spence, Old Songs' executive director, thinks that's one of the reasons "A Christmas Carol" has proved a big draw at Old Songs.

"There aren't any other family shows here," she said.

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