Tom Bonham has been involved in puppetry all of his life.
He was born in the creative environment of Robinson, Illinois, birthplace of novelist James Jones, and the Heath candy bar. His first public performance was in 1957 for his 6th grade class. He then periodically performed shows for neighborhood kids charging admission to raise some extra spending money.
In 1961, Tom Bonham's family moved from Robinson to the Saint Louis suburb of Webster Groves, Missouri. Tom eventually moved to a 100+ year old Victorian house in the historic Lafayette Square area of Saint Louis. That home had large fish ponds and a small grove of banana trees in the backyard. His current residence is now in Saint Peters Missouri about 30 miles from downtown Saint Louis. He still has a fair sized fish pond with his large butterfly koi and various ornate goldfish, and several banana trees.
He is also somewhat of a computer guru building computers, writing business application software, and creating and editing photos, soundtracks, and movies on the computer. He designs and creates websites complete with its composite photos, movies, and slideshows. He also does tech work for HP and Dell with clients like JP Morgan Chase, AT&T Cellular Phone Stores, and Countryside Financial.
Tom Bonham has a Bachelor's degree in theater from Saint Louis University and Missouri Life-time teaching certification in speech, drama, and English.
Since 1970, Tom Bonham has performed professionally throughout the United States. He performs with rod, hand, and muppet(TM)-style puppets, and, with string puppets (marionettes). While he currently performs primarily in his local area, Tom Bonham has presented his shows in such places as Washington, DC; New Orleans; Denver; Salt Lake City; San Jose, CA; and Minot, ND (in February). He performs in schools, libraries, shopping centers, private clubs, community festivals, and similar events. For seven years he was the puppet company for Westfield Shoppingtown's Kids' Club program in all their Saint Louis County, Saint Peters, and Cape Girardeau shoppingtowns (the program actually started when the centers were owned by Centermark Properties).
Tom directed a musical productons of "Carnival" and "Superman" in the Kirkwood [MO] Park outdoor amphitheater. He also worked stagecrafts for many productions at The Barn and The Plantation dinner theaters in Saint Louis. He also created specialty costume items for the Mill Run Children’s Theater in Chicago.
Tom appeared in a 4 minute opening sequence on "America's Got Talent" in 2012. His "Singing in the Shower" act convinced the show's producers to let him audition for the aired celebrity auditions. However, a few days prior to taping, he was informed that there would be music clearance issue on the act, and could he substitute. The substitution was hastily done plus a major sound glitch added to the problem, and he succeeded only in impressing Howie Mandel. But he did make Sharon Osbourne laugh.
Tom Bonham creates all of the puppets which he uses in the show, as well as the scenery and staging. He operates most performances alone, although a few shows do require an assistant puppeteer. Tom Bonham is known for imaginative uses of puppetry from his yarn boa that changes shapes into many different creatures, to the highly imaginative puppets in Land of Imagination, to unusual effects such as a rod puppet (with rods to his hands) that puts on a shirt. His latest production "The Carnival of the Animals" is constructed from plastic bottles, plastic tableware, brushes, and various dollar store items in a highly imaginative way. As one teacher said "I will never look at a toilet brush the same."
Tom Bonham has been a featured performer at two national puppet festivals, three regional puppet festivals, and many local puppet guild events. He has conducted puppetry classes at national, regional, and local puppet festivals. He has been a regional director of The Puppeteers of America, Inc. and president of The Puppet Guild of Greater St. Louis, Inc. He is currently a member of The Puppet Guild of Greater Saint Louis, Inc. and The Puppeteers of America, Inc.