Experience “Secret of the Rainforest,” a glow-in-the-dark adventure at Theater Works

Secret of the Rainforest, PuppetWorks, Theater Works, Peoria, Arizona
Peoria’s Theater Works concludes its PuppetWorks season with “Secret of the Rainforest” April 9 and 16. Photos by Michael Sigmon Photography.

What do animals do when we aren’t looking? What secrets lurk deep in the rain forest, a tropical forest populated with creatures of all shapes and sizes? Catch a glimpse of tree frogs, toucans, a monkey and other inhabitants of this mysterious world on April 9 and 16 as Theater Works in Peoria concludes its PuppetWorks season with an all-new production entitled “Secret of the Rainforest.”

The story is told through narration, puppetry and the original music of Joshua Vern and will be performed in the black-light style of puppetry, in which the puppets, scenery and even members of the audience glow in the dark.

Secret of the Rainforest, PuppetWorks, Theater Works, Peoria, Arizona
What creatures lurk in the rain forest? Find out Saturday, April 9 or 16 at Theater Works in Peoria.

“This newest production is much more visual driven than narrative driven,” says Chris Hamby, PuppetWorks program director. “The black light is such a fantastic medium, and we are using it to tell our story through colors and music rather than dialogue.”

Black light puppetry is derived from the “Czech Black” style of puppetry famous in Prague. PuppetWorks began using the style this year, after Hamby studied the form with the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia.

Vern provided scoring and narration for a previous PuppetWorks production, “Sea of Imagination,” and has also worked as head composer for various app and game-development teams. In addition, he composed and performed the score for “Your Turn To Smile,” an independent film that premiered in 2013 at the Phoenix Film Festival.

He grew up with a love of music, but hindered by anxiety, he found himself unable to play instruments in front of people. It wasn’t until he discovered digital composition software that he was able to share his music with others, and he has since been steadily honing his craft.

“Secret of the Rainforest” was conceived by Hamby and created by the PuppetWorks ensemble. Hamby will be directing the puppet performers, who include Brianna Funk, Zach Funk, Jack Lambert, Tanner Stuff, Skylar Washburn and Erik Wilson.

Though geared toward ages 3 to 8, “Secret of the Rainforest” may be enjoyed by all ages. Each 40-minute performance includes a post-show tutorial on the puppets used and a brief overview of puppetry manipulation. After each show an optional $4 workshop allows members of the audience to make their own simple puppets to take home.

“Secret of the Rainforest” – what you need to know

  • Times/dates: 10:30am & noon Sat April 9 & April 16
  • Ticket price: $7
  • Location: Gyder Theater, Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, 8355 W Peoria Ave, Peoria
  • Contact: 623-815-7930 or theaterworks.org
Secret of the Rainforest, PuppetWorks, Theater Works, Peoria, Arizona
Colorful toucans appear in “Secret of the Rainforest” at Theater Works.