‘Star Wars’ pup­pet spoof is at Play­house on the Park


One thing is for sure, they’re all gonna be a lot fur­rier.

OK, not all of your fa­vorite “Star Wars” char­ac­ters will be grow­ing body hair in “Pup­pet Wars: Episode IV: A Few Hope,” the lat­est stage spoof from All Pup­pet Play­ers. But none will es­cape un­mocked, be­cause Shaun Michael McNa­mara, the Val­ley com­pany’s found­ing pup­peteer and res­i­dent play­wright, isn’t on a mercy mission.

“Luke is a dog and Leia is a cat,” McNa­mara says. “There’s lots of hack­ing up fur balls and smelling butts and ridicu­lous­ness hav­ing to do with the fact that they’re an­i­mals.”

Ol­fac­tory greet­ing rit­u­als notwith­stand­ing, “Pup­pet Wars” is the first fam­ily-friendly pro­duc­tion from All Pup­pet Play­ers, which spe­cial­izes in R-rated movie spoofs such as “The Ex­or­cist Has No Legs,” “50 Shades of Felt” and “Top Gun: Live, Abridged and Com­pletely Un­der­funded.”

McNa­mara’s lat­est de­scent into Mup­pet-style mad­ness opens Fri­day, May 15, at the Play­house on the Park in cen­tral Phoenix.

With so many hu­man, alien and an­droid char­ac­ters to lam­poon, it would have been too ex­pen­sive to cre­ate new pup­pets for all of them, so most will be re­pur­posed from the com­pany’s stock­pile of about 50.

Chew­bacca the Wook­iee, for ex­am­ple, will be por­trayed by a furry blue fel­low orig­i­nally used as Shake­speare’s Ham­let When: Var­i­ous times, Fri­day, May 15, through Satur­day, May 30. Where: Play­house on the Park, Viad Tower, 1850 N. Cen­tral Ave., Phoenix. Ad­mis­sion: $21-$75. De­tails: 602-254-2151, allpup­pet­play­ers.com. (re­ally), but the ad­di­tion of a ban­dolier over the shoul­der makes him in­stantly rec­og­niz­able as Han Solo’s brawny side­kick.

“We have a pig pup­pet,” McNa­mara says, “so there’s Porkins. Done.”

Luke and Leia are new, how­ever, as is the vil­lain­ous Grand Moff Tarkin, a car­i­ca­ture ver­sion of the English ac­tor Peter Cush­ing. They have been sculpted us­ing foam rub­ber by Jay Tyson, a pup­pet and mas­cot maker in North Carolina who goes by the han­dle Dr. Pup­pet.

“Tarkin is a chal­lenge be­cause Shaun has a very spe­cific ver­sion of him in mind,” Tyson says, “and if you know the ac­tor — he fa­mously played Van Hels­ing in the old Ham­mer Film movies — he has a very chis­eled, an­gu­lar face.”

Ap­pro­pri­ately enough, Tyson’s ré­sumé in­cludes work­ing as a Mup­peter on Jim Hen­son Pic­tures’ “Mup­pets in Space” (1999). He has been McNa­mara’s go-to pup­pet builder for years, so he’s used to cu­ri­ous com­mis­sions.

“I think my ab­so­lutely fa­vorite just for the sim­plic­ity and bizarrenes­s of it was Ice­man from ‘Top Gun,’ be­cause he was just a snow cone,” he says. “You just don’t get a lot of or­ders for snow cone pup­pets.”

If you’re think­ing it would be hard to re­pur­pose an old pup­pet to play Darth Vader or C-3PO, well, McNa­mara finds your lack of faith dis­turb­ing. In an­other first for All Pup­pet Play­ers, those iconic char­ac­ters will be played by ac­tors in full­size cos­tumes — but ex­pect some twists.

“C-3PO will be car­ry­ing R2-D2, which is just a bath­room garbage can with a flip-top lid,” McNa­mara says.

X-wing pi­lot Porkins gets ready to make a run at the Death Star in All Pup­pet Play­ers’ “Pup­pet Wars: Episode IV: A Few Hope.”

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