Kukla, Fran and More
As I mentioned the other day in my love letter to Kukla, Fran and Ollie, I haven't been able to find online any single video that does the show justice. Each one has had something wonderful in it, but doesn't give a full sense of the different levels of the show. So, perhaps the only recourse is to post a few of them and let the collection en masse speak for it all. So, here's another one.
(There are DVDs available with full shows, to be clear.)
This video below doesn't have either Kukla or Ollie in it, but rather Madame Ophelia Oglepuss and Beulah Witch, along with Fran -- so at least you can an idea of the further range of the Kuklapolitan Players, and Burr Tillstrom's skill with characters and voices. I also had mentioned previously that Madame Oglepuss, being the dowager protector of All Things Fine Art among the Kuklapolitans, would to try to organize everyone and put on some opera or theatrical production once a year, and more often than not it would be an operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan. And that's what we have here, the three women preparing for The Mikado by rehearsing the song "Three Little Maids."
What the video also shows is Fran Allison’s sweetness and total, pure belief in the puppets. Yet as sweet as she was, she would easily get perturbed with the others when called for. (Which was not uncommon...) And it also gives an idea of Burr Tillstrom at his lunatic. In fact, much as there appears to be a happy accident in this clip, upon having watched repeated viewings of it I’m pretty convinced that everything was all impressively planned.
By the way, it's also worth noting the laughter of the audience. The show didn't always have an audience, usually if you heard laughing it was from the crew members cracking up, since much of the show was ad-libbed. But at some point there were small audiences. However I bring it up here because what stands out is that the laughter isn't the sound of little kids at all, but rather adults. Much as Kukla, Fran and Olllie was a children's puppet show, it was as much for adults, at least those with a sense of the whimsical.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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