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"2014 Season: Get Down and Thirty"
Celebrating Chester Eitze's 30th Year at the Bastrop Opera House
Plays, Musical Theatre, Dinner Theatre, Dance, Opera, Country, Film, & Comedy for Audiences of All Ages.
Bastrop's award-winning theatre!  Home of the Spring Street Players and the Colorado River Repertory
Bastrop, Texas
The HARMS MARIONETTES of Austin perform the classic
masterfully presented by Donald Harms who will share a
demonstration following the performance each evening.

December 19 & 20, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.

The performance is approximately 45 minutes long.
Adults are given the opportunity to make a monetary donation &
Children will be admitted upon receipt of a non-perishable food item to be donated to the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry on December 22, 2014.

The puppeteer writes, "Kathy Piper's Cinderella has always struck me as one of the best puppet plays written in America in the 20th century. It was a real privilege when Kathy allowed me to use her script.  The script incorporates a clever second plot in which the mother steals the magic flower from the Godfather. (I personally returned to the older tradition of telling the story with a Godfather instead of a Godmother. I was doing the voices myself.)"

The transformations, so essential in this story, happen in full view of the audience.

Cinderella meets her godfather.

Video excerpt and more photos at

Don Harms age 11
Don performing at age 11 (in the 1940s)

Bio Don Harms

Showman at age 11
(This brief bio is from an article by Cheryl Berzanskis which appeared in The Pampa News)
Don Harms became enchanted with marionettes at age nine when he first saw them. The Peoria, Illinois, native described his early years in the midwest as being conducive to the development of his craft. The basement and attic of his home provided space to spread out, his parents were encouraging, and after school, the time was his. "Marionettes became more consuming than school," he recalled.

After studying painting and literature at Bradley University, plus a year in Paris at the Sorbonne, the puppeteer pursued graduate studies in comparative literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. During those graduate years he began to direct campus live theater productions. He continued to direct after taking an assignment teaching French at the University of Michigan at Flint.

"During the '60's, it was impossible to resist theater," he said. He even gave up what he described as the best regular job he personally had ever had - teaching French in college - to pursue his love of theater.

The late 1960's found him in Austin. "I fell in love with Texas," he said, describing Austin as still undiscovered then. "It was magical, a mixture of rural and urban life." He loved the cultural potential and freshness of Texas. The love of live theater kept Harms involved in the local theater community through the early 1970's. Between productions he studied painting and sculpture.

His earlier passion for marionette theater came to the forefront of his life again after Harms came into a small inheritance which for a decade freed him from money worries. "In the seventies," he said, "I became acquainted with the various methods of puppet construction around the world; I remembered what I had learned as a youngster, and experimented with new ways to construct puppets. Aesthetically I was influenced by African masks. I studied life drawing and painting. My plan was to return to performing, but I was in no hurry. I enjoyed studying. I was in my 40's. My life had been split into different phases - studying literature, teaching, directing plays, acting, carpentry, painting and sculpture. I saw in marionette theater the chance to bring all the pieces together while still pursuing each interest."

"The area in which I did not feel qualified was play writing. So, I went to visit the playwright whose scripts I admire most among my colleagues, Kathy Piper, in Ohio. Kathy lent me the script of Aladdin. With that, I was ready to put the pieces together and perform.

Harms continued, "The first shows were successful, but I wasn't known. I was already in my early fifties. But the Texas Commission on the Arts put me on their touring roster and I began to tour Texas." He's still doing it.

There's an art to looking at marionette theater. The members of the audience bond into a pleasant state of mind by collectively focusing on the puppets. The faces of the puppets are similar to masks. The movements of their wooden bodies are pulled by the force of gravity while also being easily lifted above the force of gravity by the strings. Children quickly identify with the spontaneity of the puppets. Adults who are experienced at watching puppets often come to the conclusion that these puppet actors outdo their human counterparts in expressing the movements and the moments of tenderness, comic aggression, sadness and above all happiness.
"Raise the Roof Fundraiser"
FundraiserWhen you visit the Bastrop Opera House, you are visiting a piece of Bastrop and Texas history.  Bastrop merchants P. Otto Elzner and S.D. Green agreed to build the Opera House in 1889 at a reported cost of $15,000.  Now 124 year later, more than three times that amount is needed just to repair the roof to preserve this unique piece of history. 
The historic Bastrop Opera House has launched an emergency capital campaign to repair the roof. We have a ways to go, but we will get there with your help.  Thank you to all who of you who donated, entertained, volunteered, participated, appreciated, and joined us.  Contributors and Donors Thank You List.
Please keep those donations pouring in, so we can stop the rain from pouring in.

The Bastrop Opera House is the heart of live theater in Bastrop and needs to be preserved. The funding of a new roof is crucial.  After the incredible heat of last summer, the rain of this new year have pointed out more leaks in the over-twenty-year-old tin roof.  With contraction and expansion the nails have popped out and where there had been tar and sealant along the down spout alleys, cracks have occurred.  Rather than merely patching repeatedly what is there, a complete overhaul needs to be initiated.  Therefore, several fundraising occured including special music programs, like the Classic Country Music Shows, where the proceeds will be placed in our building fund for a preservation project of this nature.

You may send a donations for the "roof restoration project" to the Bastrop Opera House, P.O. Box 691, Bastrop, Texas 78602.  You may also make an online donation of any amount on the Bastrop Opera House site at, or you may donate by clicking this button, and entering how much you'd like to donate.
Donations so far are $11,645 toward the $50,000 goal.  THANK YOU!

Bastrop Theater
Volunteers make the Opera House function.  We could not run without the help and support of our volunteers--in fact, they are crucial to making the Bastrop Opera House a success.  Thousands of volunteer hours go into the Opera House shows.  You can help even if you only have one hour to give.  Volunteers post their interests and skills, and directors and organizers post their needs.  Are you interested in becoming part of the energetic Bastrop Opera House volunteer team?
Join the Bastrop Opera House Volunteers.

Please mail or email any questions or comments
about the Bastrop Opera House to:

Bastrop Opera House
711 Spring Street
P.O. Box 691
Bastrop, Texas 78602

Bastrop and Long Distance: (512) 321-6283; Austin-metro: (512) 303-6283

Executive Director: Chester Eitze

Bastrop Opera House is a non-profit 501(c)(3) art organization.
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