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Sock Puppet Sitcom Theater debuts at the Echo with 'Roseanne'

September 14, 2012|By Deborah Vankin
  • The Sock Puppet Sitcom Theater cast of "Roseanne," which will appear at the Echo on Saturday.
The Sock Puppet Sitcom Theater cast of "Roseanne," which will… (Sam Friedman / Sock Puppet…)

Visual artist Mark Hayward, co-founder of Sock Puppet Sitcom Theater, has found a new home for his googly-eyed cast of characters: The Echo. He’ll put on the last two puppet shows of the 2012 season at the Echo Park club, starting Saturday.

The idea behind the show, which until recently was based nearby at Atwater Crossing, is simple: handcrafted puppets perform the pilot episodes of classic hit sitcoms such as “I Love Lucy,” “Hogan's Heroes” and “Friends.”  It's become so popular, says Hayward, that the Sock Puppet team needed more space and the Echo also provides top sound quality.

Hayward sees the show as a blend of art, performance and live music that is laden with nostalgia. He makes the puppets and their costumes himself; the shows are performed by experienced puppeteers, some of whom are well known voiceover artists; and there’s live music before each show, featuring songs that were popular the year that night’s sitcom debuted.

 “We’re trying to turn the very high-tech world of television into something very soft and handmade and analog, if you will,” Hayward says. “It’s also a love note to those TV shows we grew up watching.”

On Saturday, Hayward’s sock puppets will perform the first episode of “Roseanne,” from 1988. On Oct. 13, they’ll take on 1985’s “The Golden Girls.”

Hayward hopes to carve out a permanent home for his sock thespians at the Echo -- and eventually, to start performing original material. He’d also like to see the show go monthly -- as is, they perform six shows a year.

Sock Puppet Sitcom Theater started on a lark at a Silver Lake performance space just over two years ago. It has the feel of an old-time radio show, Hayward says. Jingles from period commercials will even be performed live, between acts.  After all, a sock puppet actor needs time for a proper costume change, even if it is all felt.

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