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FOR THE KIDS THEATRE ARTS FESTIVAL : Two Days of Hog Heaven : The wedding of Lord Bacon is the event of the year in Puddledumplin. There is also continuous entertainment for two days.

October 11, 1990|JANE HULSE

Welcome to the 1850s English village of Puddledumplin. Meet Lord Swinburne Bacon, whose impressive snout befits his lofty position as town magistrate. He's about to take a bride and enter the blissful state of hog heaven.

It may not be quite kosher, but the wedding of Lord and Lady Bacon will take place during the Theatre Arts Festival for Youth, Saturday and Sunday, on the grounds of the Peter Strauss Ranch near Agoura in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

The festival is loaded with children's entertainment. Featured are some 30 performing groups in a continuous swirl of music, stories, comedy, puppets and mime.

The festival runs daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $9 for adults, $8 for children, and anyone under 3 is admitted free.

The festival is in its sixth year and last year about 4,000 adults and children attended. The Taffy Town Players, the lovable animal characters who inhabit Puddledumplin, were created four years ago as the centerpiece of the festival.

The main character is Taffy, a Welsh field mouse. She's joined by Eduard de Ville, a Parisian sewer rat; Victor Otterman, an otter; Portland Bill, a sea dog; Benoit, a French frog; and Etienne, a Cajun possum.

They will be at the wedding of Lord Bacon and his bride, a rather proper swine who keeps company with high society types. The wedding invitations state: "No gifts. We have everything."

The wedding will be at 2 p.m. both days. Lord Bacon also will be the victim of a "Pork Roast" featuring the Taffy Town characters.

During the festival, visitors can wander through Puddledumplin, with its town square, shops and tollbooth at the entrance. Taffy and her friends will mingle with children and invite them to dance around the Maypole.

The Taffy Town Players is the creation of Michael Rogers, an illustrator, and John Wood, a children's entertainer. The characters are played by professional actors and actresses.

"The makeup is quite remarkable," Rogers said. A face mold was cast for each character from Rogers' illustration. The form is glued onto the actor's face and the makeup is applied by one of three artists who prepare the characters.

Professional makeup artist Clayton Martinez said it takes about an hour to prepare each character, but two hours in the case of Lord and Lady Bacon who require five appliances to create the pig face. The effect is similar to the character who plays the lion-like character on the television show "Beauty and the Beast."

In addition to the Taffy Town Players, other entertainers appearing on three separate stages include musical humorist Dan Crow and singer Courtney Campbell; singer and songwriter Peter Alsop (Saturday only); We Tell Stories; and J.P. Nightingale, a collection of stories, songs, rhyme and mime performed by Wood and his wife, Pam.

The Magical Moonshine Puppet Theatre and the Jim Gamble Marionettes will also perform. Mimes will be Schwartz and Chung, and Judi Garratt.

Others include singer Joanie Bartels, Bob Schneider and the Rainbow Kids, a Mexican folk dancing group, traditional Japanese dancers and the rock band Craig and Company.

There are other attractions too. Children can bring their ailing stuffed animals to the Doll and Bear Clinic where nurses from Childrens Hospital will tend them.

Children can climb through a 40-foot-long nylon whale, decorate the interior of a giant balloon, and try their hand at puppet making and bead stringing.

The Peter Strauss Ranch, also known as Lake Enchanto, is on 73 acres sheltered by sycamore and eucalyptus trees. In the 1940s and 1950s it prospered as a resort before actor-producer Peter Strauss bought it for his home. It was acquired in 1983 by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

WHERE AND WHEN

The Theatre Arts Festival for Youth will be Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the grounds of the Peter Strauss Ranch near Agoura. Take the Kanan Road exit off the Ventura Freeway. Go south 2.8 miles, turn left on Troutdale Drive and continue for one-quarter mile. Go left on Mulholland Highway and immediately turn right into the parking lot. For information call 818-99TAFFY.

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