The first big puppet performance I put on was "Little Henry Does Time". It was an all improvised show in which Little Henry killed a man, is sent to Hell and then has to find his way out. There were 5-6 locations and Little Henry would move from one to the next as things happened in each one, the culmination of the show was me dressed as Little Henry doing battle with a giant starfish monster. The cast was just 4 people, myself, Mike Payne, Tracy Briery and Jeff Payne. We did it 3 times in different art spaces in San Francisco, Long Beach and Irvine. In each case we had great audiences who responded really well to the show.
The second puppet performance was "Little Henry on the Moon." This one was just me and Mike Payne and went about 10 minutes as part of a larger evening of performances. I learned a big lesson on this one, during the afternoon before the performance, we did a run through. The "audience" for the run through was a group of kids who had to do community service in the way of cleaning up the art center where the performance was being held. The run through was a train wreck, the kids didn't laugh, they all just sat there.
When it came time for the actual performance, I was terrified. In the case of this show, the audience traveled from room to room for each piece. So at the appropriate time, in came the audience and we started. We killed it. We got tons of laughs and you could tell the audience loved it. The thrill of entertaining the audience was amazing but in the back of my head I still remembered the community service kids who could have cared less. When doing anything with an audience, you need to form a connection, humor is the easiest way. Once you get them laughing, they engage and will be taken along on the trip you have planned for them.
The final puppet performance was "The Adventures of Little Henry." We did this one in an actual theatre space in Los Angeles on the westside. The cast on this one was myself, Mike and Tracy. This one didn't go well. The theatre had about 200 seats and our audience as about 15 people. There was no energy to feed off and the performance suffered. I remember at the end feeling disappointed. This would be the last big puppet performance.