Wishing Chair Productions, the library’s resident puppet troupe, continues the puppet tradition started in 1938 by Tom Tichenor. The troupe creates world-class shows that delight children and adults alike.
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Puppet Truck presents Puss in Boots: The Southeast Nashville Egg Hunt and Festival
Marionettes & Puppetry Arts at NPL
Children in Nashville have been enchanted by Nashville Public Library’s puppet shows since Tom Tichenor’s first production in 1938. Wishing Chair Productions, the library’s resident puppet troupe, continues the puppet tradition by creating word-class shows that delight children and adults alike.
Tom Tichenor and Early Puppet Shows
Tom Tichenor was only 15 when he staged “Puss In Boots” at Nashville’s Carnegie Public Library in 1938. In 1947, at age 24, he was hired as part-time staff member and began regular marionette shows for the library. His career spanned over more than forty years. During that time, he wrote and performed for the Library, radio stations, New York City’s Broadway, and an ABC Christmas Special. The Library has a collection of over 450 puppets created by Tichenor that are still used in productions today.
Brian Hull and Wishing Chair Productions
In 1997, Brian Hull was hired to reinvent the puppet program begun by Tom Tichenor. Library Director Donna Nicely coined the name, and “Wishing Chair Productions” was born. The first project was an update of Tichenor’s “The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings.”
The troupe went on to produce over 40 individual shows, most including original music. Many, like Anansi the Spider, reflect the diverse storytelling traditions and cultures of Nashville. Others reimagine classic works like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and the Shakespeare series which includes a half hour version of the Tempest and hour-long versions of Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In 2017, Wishing Chair Productions and Nashville Public Library were honored with the Puppeteers of America Award.
The Puppet Truck
The Wishing Chair Productions Puppet Truck began in 2005. The Puppet Truck works in conjunction with the library’s Bringing Books to Life! program to perform live shows at community events. The Puppet Truck allows the library to reach children and school groups who aren’t able to visit the library’s Children’s Theatre.
Wishing Chair Productions Today
This one-of-a-kind, in-house theater production company provides original full-scale literature-based puppet productions and interactive story times every week of the year. All performances are free of charge to the public.
Wishing Chair also partners with cultural institutions like the Nashville Symphony and the Nashville Jazz Workshop. Drawing on Nashville’s own talented musicians and theater professionals enables the troupe to bring each story to life with wonderful music and inventive storytelling.
They continue to preserve Tom Tichenor’s memory through the continued use of his beloved marionettes and puppets, and performances of his original shows.
With the hiring of Brian Hull, aka, The Professor, in 1997, the puppet program was brought to new heights of excellence of which we believe Tom Tichenor would have been exceedingly proud. Many thanks to Tom and Brian for sharing their unique and creative gifts with Nashville's children and their families.