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On the human side, the cast included Brandon Peters (Gabriel), Tony Bolante(Joseph), Sarah Lockard (Mary) and Jessi Riese (Melchior) among the local stage actors crouching behind the multilayered stage built by Vandy Wood. The costumed Olde Noyse Trio (John Rata, Cecilia Catron and Craig Thomas) punctuated the proceedings with religious Renaissance tunes. Some of the vocal performances were a little heavy on faux-Biblical Masterpiece Theater affectations for my taste, but the physical manipulation of the stick-and-rod figures was exquisite; the ecstatic angle of Mary’s arms as she floats in post-annunciation bliss was captured beautifully. I also appreciated how humor was used to leaven the more troublesome aspects of the narrative, like Joseph’s doubts and Herod’s cruelty, without glossing over them.

The best part of this final Christmas present was that the show I saw, along with a couple of well-attended private performances held the day before, were all free to attendees thanks to Heather and Jane Henson’s generosity. And as a bonus gift, I learned from Keohane that, following a dangerously thin Thanksgiving, Pinocchio’s had a banner holiday season and would not be shutting down again as he had feared. That’s New Year’s news worth raising a glass – or puppet – to.

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