Madcap Puppet Theatre will Engage Young Kids (and You!)

by Sherri Ogden Wellington

If you would like to do something special with your children, take them to the Madcap Education Center. Madcap is nationally recognized for creating engaging and original children’s theatre productions, as well as in-school educational programs that include performances, workshops and residencies.produces and tours across the country. This weekend my favorite 5-year-old and I went to see ”Jack and The Gentle Giant.”  He LOVED it! To say that this puppet show is engaging is an understatement.  The writer, director, actor, lighting & sound director, choreographer, and puppeteer is Dylan Shelton.  

The story begins where the fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk, ends.  An array of puppet characters stimulate your senses and compels both the young and old to laugh out loud.

 Leo, the human, lets the audience immediately in on a little secret…that his father wants him to be a conqueror of giants but his dream is to be a tour guide.  We then meet his father, a rather royal looking puppet who also tells the audience that he is secretly hiding the heartless giant after he fell from the beanstalk. Tulip, the puppet fairy and side-kick to Leo, keeps the audience on track throughout the hour-long show. 

 Three different stories are told with humor and intrigue. Leo entreats the audience to  participate by answering questions, group responses, and even a child and an adult are asked to volunteer to get on stage to assist with the show. 

The three tales are:  The Brave Little Tailor (whose name is George) is troubled by a pesky fly who is caught and thrown in with six other flies which he then catapults over a wall.  This leads to the next yarn about how George transforms into a superhero whose name is Seven in One Throw.  King Cornelius who is so impressed by this amazing individual (not knowing that it was flies that he had thrown and not huge rocks or something else heavy) employs George to get rid of his irksome ogre.  A quick skit is about Beanie. Beanie is the bean stalk who can’t sit or stay but can sing, “Beans, beans, the more you eat, the more you….”  Next is the story of  The Giant Cave Troll where a little girl fights the troll and wins.  The last one  is The Lonely Heartless Giant, which ultimately ties together the beginning of the story to the end.

A highlight for us was when Dylan Shelton asks if the audience has any questions or wants to see a particular puppet again.  Bringing out the giant puppet, “oohs” and “aahs” pop out of the mouths of children. Upon fetching out the puppets he illuminates how the various puppets work.   

Upon listening to the squeals, comments, giggles and gasps, clearly Dylan Shelton consistently reaches his audience in a simply poignant manner.  The audience is there to be entertained and he is doing so with a wide array of puppets, voices and stories.  By the looks on the adults’ faces in the crowd, is it obvious that they are as enthralled with the stories as the children.

You can purchase tickets for  the Madcap Education Center through Cincinnati Landmark Productions Box Office You can also look for more information at, or call (513) 241-6550. 

The next events at the Education Center (3064 Harrison Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45211) are March 19 (2 shows of “The Story Quest”), and April 23 (2 shows of “Your Wish is Our Command”). 

However, you can also find local Madcap performances:

  • January 22 & 23 at 1 pm and 3 pm –  “The Story Quest” will be at the Cincinnati Art Museum
  • January 29 at 11 am and 1 pm  “The Story Quest” will be at Clifton Cultural Arts Center at Enoch T. Carson Lodge
  • March 12 at 11 am and 1 pm ”Jack and the Gentle Giant” will be at Clifton Cultural Arts Center at Enoch T. Carson Lodge
  • March 19 at 11 am and 1 pm “The Story Quest” will ne at Madcap Education Center
  • April 9 & 10 at 1 pm and 3 pm Jack and the Gentle Giant” will be at the Cincinnati Art Museum

Sherri Ogden Wellington, BS, M.Ed., fell in love with the theater when given a flower by an actor during a New York performance of “Hair” many, many years ago.