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Fox Folk Marionette Troupe

Fox Folk Marionette Logo
The Fox Folk  Marionettes
 offer FVL students the opportunity to artistically express their talents through the medium of puppetry. The ultimate goal is to offer this unique performing art to the FVL Family & the Fox River Valley community while honoring the storied history of this puppet collection. The Fox Folk repertoire focuses on folk tales that provide unique insights into the great teachings of Christianity. 

What's Happening in 2019-20?

The Fox Folk Marionettes Troupe is looking forward to a special December season this year. In addition to our traditional performance at the Apple Creek YMCA on the first Saturday of the December, the troupe is hosting a special 60-minute Christmas show for the 4K - Grade 3 students in the Fox River Valley on the FVL stage. This presentation will begin with the audience favorite "The Gift of  the Princess" that tells the story of the Wisemen coming to visit the young Jesus in Bethlehem. After a short, interactive intermission, the show will continue with "Children of the Kingdom" -- a newly written Christmas fairy tale that encourages the audience to continue to share the message of Jesus. Morning and afternoon shows will be offered. Parents and grandparents are encouraged to attend. Shows are also planned for FVL Musicfest in January and Kinderfest 2020 in April. More shows may be added as the school year progresses. 

2018-19 Highlights

For the Christmas season, the troupe performed the audience favorite "The Search for the King." This was the first time this show is ever produced "open stage." A pair of Christmas shows were performed at the Apple Creek YMCA and the Christmas for Kids Event hosted by St. Paul-Green Bay in early December. On Dec.13, the team will travel to Emanuel Lutheran School in New London for a special show and to St. Peter Lutheran School in Weyauwega for a Senior Showcase performance honoring veteran puppeteer Aidan Smithson. FVL's Musicfest on January 27 gave the puppeteers another chance to perform "The Search for the King." Their final show was Kinderfest 2019 in April.

2017-18 Highlights

Shows began in December for our marionette team Our annual visit to the Apple Creek YMCA was Dec. 2 with two performances of "Baboushka & the Surprise Vistiors." The next Saturday, the same was offered at a joint Christmas for Kids event held by Riverview and St. Matthew churches in Appleton. Two community Christmas shows were offered on Dec. 13 at Fox Valley Chrisitan Academy and St. Paul Assisted Living in Kaukauna. This marked the first time the team had performed in a nursing home setting. For FVL Musicfest, they performed a Christian fairytale show entited "I Can Do All Things." A pair of Senior Showcase performances were performed at Mount Olive-Appleton and Trinity-Neenah. The troupe also performed "A Sight to See" at Eternal Love-Appleton's "Easter Egg-stravanza. The last show of the year was for the kindergarteners at FVL Kinderfest 2018 in April. 

2016-17 Highlights

Shows began in December for our marionette troupe of 12 puppeteers! For the first time ever, the Fox Folk Marionettes performed at Grow With Us Childcare at Immanuel-Black Creek. That show was Dec. 8 @ 4 pm. Our annual visit to the Apple Creek YMCA was Dec. 10 with two performances of "The Gift of the Princess" @ 11 am & 1 pm. Sadly our Dec. 17 show at St. Paul in downtown Appleton had to be canceled due to a snow storm. At FVL Musicfest on January 29 performed our new open-stage fairytale show with knights, a dragon, a lovely princess, and an enchanted forest. Senior showcase performances of this same show were performed at St.Peter-Appleton, Bethlehem-Hortonville, Immanuel-Greenville and our first-ever visit to Riverview-Appleton. The last show of the year was for the kindergarteners at FVL Kinderfest on April 7. We enjoyed a wonderful year and were sad to see our seven senior members graduate. 

2015-16 Highlights

In 2015-16 the Fox Folk Marionette Troupe celebrated the 50th year of the puppets telling the Christmas story. Practices began in mid-October. In honor of their golden anniversary, the show "The Search for Christmas" was chosen. It is a modern retelling of the classic Henry Van Dyke story "The Other Wiseman." This story is special because it is not only one of the original shows performed by the original puppet creators at All Saints Episcopal Church in downtown Appleton, but it is also the first show the marionettes performed in their new home at Fox Valley Lutheran High School. The troupe's annual visit to the Apple Creek YMCA was Dec. 5 with a pair of performances. In conjunction with the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, FFM also offered a special intergenerational show at the Thompson Community Center December 7th. Along with the performance, a brief history of the puppets was shared along with a puppet-building session for the audience! Also that December the group performed as part of the "Christmas for Kids" program at St. Paul Luthean Church in downtown Appleton.

In 2016, the team also attended a professional performance at the Oshkosh's Grand Opera House on Monday, January 25. That same  morning they will be offering a community performance at Trinity Lutheran School in Oshkosh. FVL's Winterfest 2016 saw the group offer an encore performance of "The Search for Christmas." Other performances included shows at Immanuel-Greenville, Emanuel-New London and Our Shepherd Child Care in Appleton for their "Easter for Kids" program. The season closed with our Kinderfest 2016 program in April. 

2014-15 Highlights

The Fox Folk Marionettes team enjoyed a visit in November to the Fox Cities PAC for "Stella Queen of the Snow" and a backstage tour with Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia. Our annual visit to the Apple Creek YMCA on Dec. 6th saw two performances of "Baboushka & the Surprise Visitors," a retelling of the classic Russian folktale.  On the afternoon of December 12th, the troupe will be performed a Community Showcase of "Baboushka" at New Hope Christian School. St. Paul Church & School in Green Bay hosted a showing of "Baboushka" on December 13th for their Christmas for Kids event. An encore performance of "Baboushka & the Surprise Visitors" was offered at FVL Winterfest 2015 in late January.

Spring 2015 found the team sharing a Senior Showcase program at St. Peter Lutheran School in Weyauwega and a school show at Mt. Olive Lutheran School in Appleton. A special Easter Community Showcase was by St. Paul Lutheran Child Care of Winneconne.  Another Community Showcase was offered in April at Faith Lutheran Church of Appleton. The final performance of the year was Kinderfest 2015 at FVL. 

 2013-14 Highlights  

On Dec. 7th, the Fox Folk Marionettes visited the Apple Creek YMCA  for two performances of "The Gift of the Princess."  On December 11th and 14th braving brutal cold and a nasty winter storm, the troupe shared "The Gift of the Princess" for the Memory Cafe at the Thompson Community Center in downtown Appleton and at St. Paul Church & School in Green Bay for their Christmas for Kids program.

FVL Winterfest 2014 was Sunday, January 26. The first show of the day was an encore performance of "The Gift of the Princess." For the second show, the troupe debuted their new Easter program entitled "A Sight to See." The show features a little blind boy who miraculously receives his sight from Jesus just before the Savior is betrayed and crucified. "A Sight to See" was also performed at three Senior Showcase programs at Bethlehem Lutheran School of Hortonville, Immanuel Lutheran School of Greenville, and St. Peter Lutheran School of Appleton.

We also enjoyed performing for over 200 kindergarten students at FVL's annual Kinderfest event. Director Dave Payne is 120 pages into his book designed to capture the history of these special puppets who have now performed for over 32,000 people.

Girls under purple curtain

 2012-13 Highlights

The Fox Folk Marionettes made our annual trek to the Apple Creek YMCA on Dec. 1st for a pair of performances of "A Lamb's Tale," an original script written by director Dave Payne. On January 27th, as part of Winterfest, the troupe performed "A Lamb's Tale" at 12:30 and "Princess Gloriana & the Dragon" at 2:30 p.m. in the small gym. "A Lamb's Tale" features the Christmas story from the perspective of the Bethlehem shepherds and their sheep. In "Princess Gloriana & the Dragon," the land of Fortunia is rocked by the arrival of an evil dragon who makes his lair in their enchanted forest. Does Sir Baldwin make a difference and save the royal family? Kinderfest was moved from February to April, but the team performed "I Can Do All Things..." for an auditorium filled with 200 kindergarteners.

Camel puppet

2011-12 Highlights

The Fox Folk Marionette Troupe opened their season with a pair of performances December 3 at the Apple Creek YMCA. The debut showing of "The Gift of the Princess" was well received. December 10 found the puppeteers sharing the same show in the gym at St. Paul Lutheran School in Green Bay for that church's special Christmas outreach event. Two shows were performed with over 200 in attendance. At FVL's Winterfest, the puppeteers encored the same show and introduced their new fairytale show entitled "The Girl Who Cried Wolf." This show was written by Director Dave Payne and puppeteer Alyssa Lawrence. This is the first time the troupe had performed a play written by one of the performers. A select group of the marionettists also performed in February for FVL Kinderfest 2012's inaugural." The performance of "I Can Do All Things..." was a hit with the kindergartners and adults alike and will be performed again at future Kinderfest devotions.

2 puppets near hearth

2010-11 Highlights

The Fox Folk Marionette Troupe opened their season with a pair of performances December 4 at the Apple Creek YMCA. "Baboushka and the Christmas Visitors" was well received. Segments of the program were videotaped for an upcoming edition of Kids Connection - a Wisconsin Synod video newsmagazine for school-age children. At FVL's Winterfest on January 30, the puppeteers presented "Princess Glorianna & the Jewel Trees" and "The Miracle of the Candles." Both shows were presented in the open stage format - a first for the Fox Folk Marionette Troupe. "Princess Glorianna" brought back last year's popular fairy tale program, while "The Miracle of the Candles" was a new show based on a folklore legend about a poor widower and his two girls whose celebration of Christmas is aided by miraculous means. We received sad news in March as we were notified of the death of Barbara Purdy, one of the leading inspirations behind the creation of the marionettes. Spring saw a visit to Trinity Lutheran School in Brillion and May found the troupe traveling to St. Mark School in Green Bay for a "Grand People's Day" performance - two cities where the puppets had never been seen before.

Click here for an article from the County Post East highlighting our show!

 2009-10 Highlights

FFM debuted its new portable stage (created/built by Director Dave Payne) with a pair of shows at the new Apple Creek YMCA.  Especially exciting was the opportunity to perform an updated version of "The Search," one of the first shows ever performed by our team and one that goes back to the original shows the puppets were built to perform. It is  adapted from the famous story "The Other Wiseman" by Henry Van Dyke. It also was a chance to pay tribute to the Purdy family who donated their marionette collection to FVL and were instrumental in the evolution of the new YMCA as well.

Dragon and knight puppets

This season also marked the debut of our first fairy tale show: "Princess Glorianna & the Jewel Trees" created by Directors Dave & Cassie Payne and featuring our brand new dragon marionette. Our "Senior Showcases" took us on the road to schools in Mt. Olive-Appleton and St. Peter-Freedom. We were also privileged to perform for Bethany Lutheran Church's Christian Education Sunday at FVL. A special treat was the opportunity to take the puppeteers backstage after an Oshkosh performance by the Mermaid Theatre, a professional troupe from Nova Scotia, Canada.

2008-09 Highlights

This season marked the debut of the "Piccolo: The Stubborn Little Donkey," a tale adapted from the famous Charles Tazewell story. Our "Senior Showcases" took us on the road to Emanuel, New London and Martin Luther, Neenah. We were also privileged to perform at Martin Luther School in Oshkosh after attending a professional puppetry performance at Oshkosh's Grand Opera House - complete with a backstage tour.

Also coming for Winterfest (January 31st) is a new fairy tale show entitled "Princess Gloriana & the Jewel Trees."  Watch out for our new scary dragon!

Roman guard and lady puppets

Our "Senior Showcases" will also take our show on the road to the elementary schools of our senior puppeteers attended to introduce these youngsters to puppetry.

The photo below depicts the nativity scene with Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus -- a scene from many FFM performances.

Mary Joseph and baby Jesus puppets


The directors of the troupe also partnered with the Fox Cities PAC to visit area elementary schools to share puppetry workshops tied to "Swimmy" show that was performed at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in early October.

 2007-08 Highlights

The troupe debuted its new script "A Lamb's Tale" while tells the Christmas story from the perspective of the sheep in the fields of Bethlehem. The team also began its "Senior Showcase" program by visiting St. John School in East Bloomfield and St. Peter School in Appleton. The Senior Showcase program features the Russian folktale of "Baboushka." Directors Dave & Cassie Payne also worked with the Fox Cities PAC to visit area elementary schools and share a short introduction to puppetry program.

Click here to view slides of "Baboushka" show

 2006-07 Highlights

2006-07 was an important year for the troupe. Many new, young puppeteers joined the team. Also, Cassie Payne, director of Hands 2 Grow Puppet Productions, volunteered as Assistant Director. The team reprised "Darko's Song" -- FFM's adaptation of an old Serbian folk tale that tells the story of a blind shepherd boy who miraculously teaches the people of his village to see what is truly important in life.

FFM also presented two special performances at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in conjunction with the opening of Disney's Lion King in May 2007. The performances highlighted the different types of puppetry -- shadow, rod, mask, hand, and moving mouth puppets -- performed in The Lion King.

LION KING SHOW PPT - click here

In addition to our traditional performances at FVL Winterfest, the troupe also performed for the Christian Education Sunday of Bethany Lutheran Church of Appleton. Also for the first time in its FVL history, the puppets made a road trip to perform for FVL Schools Week at Trinity Lutheran School in Neenah. The Russian folktale "Baboushka" was the feature presentation that afternoon.

Community plays with puppets

Photo of the presentation of "Baboushka" at Trinity School in Neenah in March 2007.


• FVL Honor Roll - Highest Honors since 2009

• Varsity letters in soccer & dance team

• Junior Varsity letter in math club


• Soccer - School and club teams

• Dance - School team

• Volunteering - Habitat for Humanity, Fox Cities Marathon

• Lutheran Vanguard of Wisconsin - Marching band

• Choraliers - School show choir

• Jesus Cares

• Drama - performed in Pinkalicious

• National Honor Society



Mt. Olive Lutheran Church - Appleton, WI (1999-present) - Rev. Robert Raasch, Rev. Joel Zank, Rev. Jasper Sellnow

• Youth Group (2009-present)

• Choir (2003-2009)

• Sunday School Teacher (2010-present)

Click here to view pics of the 2017 Apple Creek YMCA show

 The "Wisemen" in this year's "The Gift of the Princess" Christmas show

Wisemen puppets

 WELS Kid's Connection (Dec 2011) - Fox Folk Marionettes

Students perform puppets

Photo from an early 2007-08 FFM practice of our new show "A Lamb's Tale." This show was written by Mr. Payne and will debuted at FVL's Winterfest on January 27, 2008.


Original marionette troupe

Original members of the Fox Folk Marionette Troupe included Mr. Dave Payne, J. Evenson, A. Loewenhagen, J. Wierschke, J. Waack, J. Hammond, M. Mortenson, A. Houser, T. Lemke, & Mrs. M. Levich.


Want to read about the
interesting history of our marionettes?

Click on this link --
Reclaiming a Community Legacy: A History of the Fox Folk Marionettes


Member of the FVL Schools Educational & Child Care System

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