Connecticut Puppeteer Performs For Chappaqua Children

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Puppeteer Matthew Leonard gave a live puppet show Thursday in the Chappaqua Public Library theater, with more than 75 children in attendance. Photo Credit: Michael Nocella

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – For restless children suffering from winter break boredom, the Chappaqua Public Library had just the thing Thursday: a live puppet show.

“It’s really nice to get out of the house and do something with the kids,” said Chappaqua resident Lisa Haunss-Sanz, who brought her 7-year-old twins, Andrew and Thomas. Both are on winter break from Douglas G. Grafflin Elementary School.

“They definitely have a little bit of cabin fever right now,” Haunss-Sanz said.

They were not the only ones. More than 75 children, along with their parents, were in attendance for puppeteer Matthew Leonard’s “The Reluctant Dragon,” which he performed in the library’s theater. Admission was free.

“We try to do something every winter break,” said children’s librarian Mercy Garland. “It gives the kids a chance to get out of the house.”

The puppet show, which ran just under an hour, followed the story of a dragon named Dragon. Dragon is not like most other dragons, as he loves to sing songs, play games and be extremely nice to everyone.  When he moves next to a new village, he befriends a boy named Harold, who tries to explain to everyone that Dragon is not as dangerous as he looks.

“This is my rendition of Kenneth Grahame’s original children’s book,” said Leonard, who hand-built all of the puppets used in the show. “I love this story because it’s about something. It’s about understanding and acceptance. I try to convey those morals in the show without seeming too preachy.”

Leonard, who graduated from the University of Connecticut’s top-ranked puppet art program, has been doing this show for 12 years. It was his first time performing in Chappaqua.

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