Boyd Ivey, for the Deseret Morning News
PROVO Proving that people can learn anything they want from a public library, a local family has created marionettes for "The Princess and the Pea." They've already performed for story hour and most recently for a capacity crowd in the children's wing of the Orem Public Library.
The Meyers girls: Jeanette, 17; Sara, 15; Julie, 9 and Charlotte, 7, hope to take their version of the classic fairy tale to other venues, including rest homes, hospitals and schools.
Under the tutelage of their mother, Elizabeth Meyers, who has home-schooled the children over the past 14 years, they created the marionettes and the costumes.
They learned how to make them run and jump and came up with the story line from books and a video in the library.
"We spend a lot of time there, checking out books," Meyers said. "You can learn about anything you want to know from the library."
They were inspired to make the marionettes after they saw the puppet stage in the children's wing.
"We've had hand-puppets ever since the kids were little," she said.
The idea to create marionettes has been gelling in their collective minds over the past several years.
Finally, with the persistence and urging of Jeanette Meyers, the family moved forward and built the puppets as a home-school project, then contacted the library in July to see if they could put on a show.
"There's something magical about puppets," Elizabeth Meyers said.
Even when the puppeteer is visible, the audience focuses on the puppet.
"It's been a really fun family project," Sara Meyers said.
"They are worth the time that it took," Jeanette Meyers said. "Hearing the kids laughing made it worthwhile."
All four kids and the mother operate the puppets. Sara Meyers handles the queen and a bookworm hand puppet (during a preshow). Julie Meyers works the queen's cat and gets most of the laughs. Jeanette Meyers operates the princess (both of them a rain-soaked princess and an indoor princess), and the court jester. Sometimes she trades off with her mother, who also gives the prince his moves.
The youngest member of the cast, Charlotte Meyers, runs the operation backstage and hands the marionettes to their operators. She has to be careful their heads are full of , plaster of Paris, Elizabeth Meyers said. Charlotte also handles a dog hand puppet in the preshow to warm up the audience.
"We had to wait 'til she grew up," Mom Meyers said. "We've been planning this since she was 2."
The family entertainers had a little practice in front of an audience before they took on a room full of strangers.Last month they put on the same show twice during the library's story hour for children.