Where can small children find Santa Claus, angels, ballerinas, dancing bells, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and a partridge in a pear tree, all in one place?
At "Holiday Stars!," the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre's seasonal offering for the very young, even toddlers get caught up in the action.
It's not difficult to be fascinated with a host of colorful, superbly crafted marionettes that may perch on a knee, shake a hand or give a hug to any child seated on the red-carpeted floor in the living room-style theater.
Bob Baker's puppet revues are always dazzling, and this one is no exception. There's a sumptuous use of velvet, satin and tulle and the glitter of gold and silver. Puppet couples waltz gracefully under the skilled hands of their puppet masters, the ladies swathed in lace and sparkling with jewels.
Ice-skating snowmen offer some fancy footwork, and robots with light-up faces march under an elf's command. A purple-and-silver-gowned magician and a wishing star with a captivatingly painted face and the impressive moniker of Dimitrius Nova Twinkle Star III serve as hosts.
In a salute to Hanukkah, the candles of a menorah are lighted, one by one, as white and silver dreidls are spun out into the audience.
The artistry and the imagination are undeniable. This lively and varied parade of seasonal puppets is all that's necessary for small-tot excitement. But in "Holiday Stars!" the imagination falters toward the end. The puppet parade stops, and a wordy Santa Claus story is presented. Then, a large screen takes center stage and a murky old Disney Christmas cartoon is shown to a taped narration of " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas."
A flatness remains, even after a glittering puppet finale.
The event isn't over, however, until one and all are given ice cream, a cookie and a tour of the workshop--a place where the magic of creativity is alive and well.
Performances continue at 1345 West 1st St. through January at 10 a.m., 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. on Sundays. (213) 250-9995.