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Marionettes bring Arabia to Hagerstown

March 08, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- OK, enough of the bad news about the economy. It's time for a little fun and imagination.

That's just what the audience experienced Sunday when the National Marionette Theatre brought its traveling show to Hagerstown Community College.

Marionettes are puppets controlled from above by strings. The operators can be hidden or revealed, as they were Sunday at Kepler Theater.

Brothers Peter and David Syrotiak worked their magic, standing above a small stage where they animated puppets for their version of "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves."

In the story, character Ali Baba overhears a group of 40 thieves visiting their treasure in a cave while he is cutting wood in a forest. In the story of death and drama, Ali Baba enters the cave and takes some of the treasure.

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Marionette shows have been a part of the Syrotiak family for years.

Their father, David Syrotiak Sr., started the theater company and his voice is still used in some of the shows' recorded segments.

But at 73 years old, their father is not seen on the road much.

"For the most part, he wants to stay a home and surf the Web," said Peter Syrotiak, who is from Brattleboro, Vt.

Ali Baba is a fictional character based in ancient Arabia, and the Syrotiak brothers used sound effects and accents to make the story feel like it was set far away.

After the show, the two puppeteers came in front of their stage to explain how they offer their art and to take questions from the public.

The Syrotiaks made a point to take questions from many of the children in the audience, who wanted to know exactly how the marionettes are operated. One child asked from where the talking comes.

The answer, according to Peter Syrotiak? They relied on a little technology -- an iPod.

The theater, which holds 442, was about three-quarters full for the show, which was free to the public.

"I thought it was wonderful," said Gregario Hidrobo, who brought two children whom he baby-sits. "It's not something you see every day."

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