Tom Bonham Puppet and Marionette Productions Tom Bonham Puppet and Marionette Productions

90 Seconds - Stand-up Puppetry

Inspired by an appearance on America's Got Talent, this consists of a variety of 90 seconds acts from a quick Broadway Review called "Singing in the Shower" (which won him the AGT appearance, but could not be presented for legal reasons) to Tom Bonham's signature piece "The Jolly Coopersmith," to Amish inspired puppets in "The Creation," to the story of "The Spanish Captain's Daughter" told with brooms and dustpans, to a performance of "The Seven Ages of Man" with a mouse finger puppet. . . . This is an unique, imaginative and fast paced experience.

There are 3 versions of the show: "Puppets and Poets", a 45 minute family friendly show with a 50 page teaching guide for schools; "90 Seconds", a full hour show for an adult audience (does not contain "blue" material); "The Trunk show", an abbreviated 30 minute version with the adult oriented acts.

The show is referred to as stand-up puppetry as not only are the puppets unique, but also the presentation style. The 'set' is a couple trunks, screens, and tables. There is no traditional styled puppet stage involved. The puppeteer becomes a part of many of the acts. With the exception of pre-recorded musical accompa- niment, this all a live performance.

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"90 Seconds - Puppets and Poets" video     |    "90 Seconds - Puppets and Poets Teaching Guide"

Singing in the Shower (created 2011)


The original idea was an act called “Broadway 24/7” with 24 shows in 7 minutes inspired by a similar act with sock puppets I saw on YouTube. And, I whittled it down to 90 seconds.

This is the act that got me past two producer auditions for “America’s Got Talent.” Then 4 days before taping, I was informed that they could not get music clearances for the songs. I consider it a parody on the musical comedies (“Hello Dolly,” “Les Miserables,” “Annie,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and, “Wicked”) and parodies are exempt from any copyright infringements. I guess the AGT intellectual property lawyers thought others might see it differently, and it would be in AGT’s best interest not to make waves or set off possible litigation.

The Spanish Captain’s Daughter (created 2012)

Back in 1640 when my great, . . great grandfather George Bonham landed in Virginia, the bawdy “The Spanish Captain’s Wife was all the rage. It later years the song was “sanitized” besides being less “suggestive” the wife was changed to the daughter to make it a more innocent flirt. This is an abbreviated version of the sanitized ballad.


Tom Bonham Puppet and Marionette Productions The Spanish Captains Daughter

PittyPat and TippyToe (created 1976)


Tom Bonham Puppet and Marionette Productions Pitty-pat and Tippy-Toe by Eugene Field

The music is Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” ©1902 (now public domain), the arrangement is from the soundtrack of the 1973 movie “The Sting.”
This act was originally in my show “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” from 1976. It wasn’t until years later that I realized what a powerful piece of puppetry this was. The puppets are simply shoes I bought in a discount store mounted on a “stick.” There no eyes, mouths, or moving parts. Yet, before the act is over, the audience has given personality attributes to “shoes on a stick."

Metamorphosis (created 1973)

The music is by C Peter originally written in German c. 1891 (now public domain) was a very popular march in the US from during the first decade of the last century. Portions of the tune bear a striking resemble to “It’s a Small World.” This particular arrangement was transcribed from a 1921 player piano roll.

Tom Bonham Puppet and Marionette Productions Metamorphosis

The act itself was designed for “The Arab Dance” from “The Nutcracker.” However, it lends itself well to a number of music genres. I often perform this piece on potpourri night at national puppet festivals. When I did this at the 1974 national puppet festival potpourri night in New Orleans, Jim Henson came up to me the next morning and complimented me on the act. Many years later in 2008 at a regional puppet festival in Savanna, Georgia, I happened to be standing next to Jane Henson, and she complimented me. . . on my hair color.

The Hapless Child (created 2013)

The story by Edward Gorey © 1961 is a favorite at Potpourri Night at national puppet festival when performed by Pat Lay Wilson. This act copies much of her performance style, but is more fast paced and set to Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms” ©1930. Not included in "Puppets and Poets" version.
Tom Bonham Puppet and Marionette Productions The Hapless Child by Edward Gorey

A Dutch Lullaby (re-created 2013)

Tom Bonham Puppet and Marionette Productions A Dutch Lullaby by Eugene Field

Written by Eugene Field ©1889 (now public domain), it is better known as “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.” I first created this act as part of an anthology show of Eugene Field’s children’s poems in 1974. The act has been re-created as a stand alone for “90 Seconds.”

Little Orphant Annie (created 2015)

Tom Bonham Puppet and Marionette Productions Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley

The "Little Orphant Annie" is an 1885 poem written by James Whitcomb Riley. It was inspired by Mary Alice "Allie" Smith, an orphan living in the Riley home during her childhood. Originally entitled "The Elf Child", Riley changed the name to "Little Orphant Allie" at its third printing; however, a typesetting error during printing renamed Allie to Annie. The poem served as the inspiration for the character Little Orphan Annie about whom was based a comic strip, plays, radio programs, television shows, and movies.
The music is Charles Gounod’s “The Funeral March of a Marionette (Marche funèbre d'une marionnette)” written in 1872 for solo piano and orchestrated in 1879 (now public domain).

Ghost Dance (created 1997)

The song is the Jeopardy television show theme song originally composed by Merv Griffin as the lullaby “Bedtime for Tony” (his son). It became the Jeopardy television show theme song in 1984 and retitled “Think”. Although Mr. Griffin sold his ownership of the television show, he retained ownership of the song. The puppets are scarf puppets of a type popularized by famed German puppeteer Albrecht Roser.

Mr. Bojangles (created 2014)

Tom Bonham Puppet and Marionette Productions Mister Bojangles
While there is still a tradition that puts “Mr. Bojangles” as a black performer, the original “Mr. Bojangles” was most likely white. Mr. Walker was white, and in 1965 the New Orleans jail was segregated. Also minstrel shows would occasionally feature a black performer, but were predominantly white entertainer in black-face. I have taken the song not as the tale of a dancer, but as the tale of an old man and his dog. And I have included the full ballad, even though it is more than 90 seconds. Not included in "Puppets and Poets" version.

The Creation (created 2012)

“The Creation” by James Weldon Johnson Was originally Published in The Book of American Negro Poetry ©1922 (now public domain) and later included in in his book God’s Trombones. This piece has intrigued me for decades, but always too short and specialized for any show. I have now taken the last 90 seconds of the poem and set to the opening of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”©1913 (now public domain).

Tom Bonham Puppet and Marionette Productions The Creation by James Weldon Johnson

Lost in the Stars (created 2013)

The song “Lost in the Stars” is the title song of the musical with book and lyrics by Maxwell Anderson and music by Kurt Weill ©1948. I first used this song with a Mahalia Jackson recording in my show “Girandole Gaieties.“ I reworked the song with different puppets including a puppet originally created for “The Littlest Angel” and characters from my old “Aesop’s Fables.” Not included in "Puppets and Poets" version.
Tom Bonham Puppet and Marionette Productions Lost in the Stars by Kurt Weill

The Moon Song (created 1979)

Tom Bonham Puppet and Marionette Productions The Moon Song by Jerry Herman

From Jerry Herman’s 1956 musical “Mame,” this is act was designed for “The Many Faces of the Moon”. That show was commissioned for the McDonnell [Saint Louis] Planetarium celebration of the 10th anniversary of the moon landing.

Jabberwocky (created 2013)

Tom Bonham Puppet and Marionette Productions Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

This a fun version of Lewis Carroll‘s poem appearing in "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There" ©1871 (now public domain).

No Time at All (created 1980)

The song that thumbs its nose at aging is from the 1972 Tony Award-winning musical "Pippin" with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. This was originally in my “Girandole Gaieties.” The act was so popular that I am including it in “90 Seconds” even though it runs a little more than 90 seconds. Not included in "Puppets and Poets" version.
Tom Bonham Puppet and Marionette Productions No Time at All from Pippin

Puppet Show for a Kitten (created 1994)


Inspired by a kitten and a mouse finger puppet give-away from the 1989 national puppet festival, this is a true story that developed into a bit of a joke in an internet chat room and spawned the next act. Not included in "Puppets and Poets" version.

The Seven Ages of Man (created 1994)


The outgrowth of Puppet Show for a Kitten this became a personal challenge. Could I turn the punchline of a joke into a serious piece? Could I perform Shakespeare with finger puppets? At potpourri night at the national puppet festival in Saint Paul, Minnesota, I debutted the act thinking if any audience were to understand the act, this was it. Not included in "Puppets and Poets" version.

Tom Bonham Puppet and Marionette Productions The Seven Ages of Man by Shakespeare