Lake Harriet puppeteers take the stage

The four 3rd-grade classes from Lake Harriet Community School's upper campus will perform a shadow puppet show of fairy tales at the Red Eye Theater, 15 W. 14th St. on Thursday, Feb. 12 at 1:30 p.m.

Shadow puppetry is an East Asian art form using cut- out cardboard forms attached to a stick to portray characters. Kids work in teams to create backdrops that are photographed and projected onto a screen with a slide projector against which shadow puppets perform.

Performances include "Hansel and Gretel," "The Wartville Wizard," "The Web Files" (a detective story with farm animals) and an original piece entitled "The Drow Eineg," written by Lake Harriet's 2003 Minnesota Teacher of the Year, Gino Marchetti.

The school's music teacher Sue Cullen-Pehrson wrote original songs for the program, which will be performed by 80 Lake Harriet students.

Red Eye artists spent a week with each class -- the seventh year Lake Harriet and Red Eye have collaborated.

The program catches students in their first year on the 3rd-through-8th-grade Upper Campus, 4912 Vincent Ave. S.

"We picked 3rd-graders because we wanted to give them a special experience that makes them feel like they are a part of the Lake Harriet school community," said Cullen-Pehrson. "It's a great age to bring out their creativity and their enthusiasm."

Red Eye's participation is funded by a $5,000 grant from the Golden Valley-based Perpich Center For the Arts. Lake Harriet contributed $1,200 and the school's PTA kicked in $3,000.

Miriam Must, managing director at Red Eye, said the show's goal is to teach kids what it means to perform, how to manipulate puppets and read expressively.

"The focus is on teamwork, tapping in on kids' imagination and the magic of seeing your creations come to life on stage," Must said.

The show is free, however, parking may be an issue. Must recommended that parents park in the Emerson School lot at 1421 Spruce Pl., one block west of the theater.