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Puppets & Strings 

Akron orchestra mixes it up with marionettes in a tribute to classical music.

If you want to jazz up classical music in concert, put a few larger-than-life puppets onstage. That's what the Akron Symphony Orchestra's idea was when it teamed up with Cincinnati's Madcap Puppet Theatre for today's performance of A Fairy Tale Fantasy. "We wanted something that was just plain fun but, at the same time, something that would augment the performance experience," says Chris Lees, the orchestra's 26-year-old assistant conductor. "Obviously, this one seems geared toward families, but it's also engaging for young professionals. We just want to get everyone involved in the conversation."To get the dialogue started, colorful puppets perform bullfighting and Pecos Bill skits while the orchestra plows through classical masterpieces by Mozart and Dvorák, as well as Leroy Anderson's quirky "Plink, Plank, Plunk!" The concept is the latest in a wave of attempts to mix at least two kinds of performing arts in one show. It also helps kids get their first taste of a classical repertoire without boring them to tears. "We wanted the music to be easy to listen to during the performance and to match what the audience would be seeing with the puppets," says Lees. "Mainly, we wanted it to be colorful and accessible." A Fairy Tale Fantasy starts at 3 today at E.J. Thomas Hall, 198 Hill Street. Tickets are $10 to $15. Call 330-972-7570 or visit www.ejthomashall.com.
Sun., April 13, 3 p.m., 2008

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