Alice Waters once said, “teaching kids how to feed themselves and how to live in a community responsibly is the center of education.” It’s a frequent criticism that if you ask kids these days where food comes from, they’ll likely tell you the grocery store.
The Giant Turnip, however, introduces children to the process of gardening and farming in an entertaining way. Kids get to not only see where food comes from, but also the value of helping one another and communicating in a kind way.
Ingrid Hass and Ole Hass use rod and shadow puppets to share the story of and old man and an old woman and a tiny seed that transforms into an enormous turnip. While the vegetable would be perfect for the old woman’s famous turnip stew, they have a difficult time getting it out of the ground. It’s a retelling of a Ukrainian folk tale, infused with singing and quite a few jokes.
The set itself had charm. With its hand-stitched, hand-painted feel, it lent itself nicely to the folksy style of the story and song. The puppeteers used the various puppets in often clever and unexpected ways.
Most enchanting, however, was the music. Both performers hold Master’s Degrees in Opera Performance and have performed at the Kennedy Center, the National Cathedral and Strathmore Hall. Therefore, it was no surprise that their renovated renditions of old melodies sounded so dynamic and beautiful. I couldn’t help but notice that a few of the young girls after seeing the show were twirling around outside the theatre, singing their own versions.
The Giant Turnip became a little slow in the middle, evident by more than a little squirming in the front row. For kids only the more hyper side, I would recommend a show that called for more audience participation.
The Giant Turnip
Written and performed by Ingrid and Ole Hass
Details and tickets
It quickly picked up, however, when the characters tried to pick the Giant Turnip. The kids looked positively entranced from that point forward.
The Hyman M. Perlo Studio at Dance Place proved a perfect venue. It was well-lit, decorative and clearly accustomed to entertaining young patrons of art.
Even the sound of the Metro humming in the background had an unexpectedly pleasant effect. Before the show started, the little ones would perk up, turn and whisper whenever we heard a train whiz by. This instilled an appropriate sense of wonder.
The entire Hass family was very sweet with the audience from the moment we entered the room to the moment we left. Their son, Felix, added superb sound effects and handed out programs. Their daughter, Cecilia, helped set up and take down the set.
I would recommend this show to preschool and early elementary school-aged children, and any adult who appreciates good puppetry.