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'Stuffed and Unstrung' -- an improv puppet show for adults -- is coming to Irvine

November 5, 2010 | 10:00 am

Stuffed-photo2 Think of it as a puppet show for grownups.

"Stuffed and Unstrung," which features improv comedian-puppeteers from the Jim Henson Company, will make its West Coast debut Dec. 29-Jan. 2 at the Irvine Barclay Theatre.

The cast of six humans plus about 80 puppets will create sketches and songs, sparked by audience suggestions, that can range from witty to quirky to bawdy. (Warning: There will be no Muppets -- which are now owned by Disney -- or other recognizable characters from the Henson world, and this is not a program for kids.)

The action will be projected on large video screens, giving theatergoers the chance to see the performers in full view and the puppets as they would appear on television. Actor and Groundlings alum Patrick Bristow will serve as host and ringmaster.

The production also will include nonimprov elements such as two vintage Jim Henson pieces, which will be introduced on screen, then presented onstage.

"Stuffed and Unstrung" was created by Brian Henson, chairman of the company started by his father, and Bristow and is produced by WestBeth Entertainment and Henson Alternative, the division of the Henson Co. responsible for content aimed at adults.

The show grew out of Brian Henson's "Puppet Up! -- Uncensored," which premiered in 2006 in Aspen, Colo., and was developed in a workshop version from 2007 to 2009 at the Avalon Hollywood. "Stuffed" ran off-Broadway earlier this year.

"Stuffed and Unstrung" will play for six performances at the Barclay. It is recommended for ages 16 and older, the producers said.

-- Karen Wada

Photo: Michael Oosterom, left, and Tyler Bunch in "Stuffed and Unstrung." Credit: Carol Rosegg

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