Month: June 2016

Free Tour of the Ballard Institute and Screening of “Muppet Treasure Island” on the Town Square on 6/24!

On Friday, June 24, the Ballard Institute will offer a free tour of current exhibitions and have extended hours for the Mansfield Downtown Partnership’s free screening of Muppet Treasure Island on the Mansfield Town Square at dusk.

Before the movie starts, come to Storrs Center for family-friendly activities starting at 7 p.m., including a themed dinner at Dog Lane Cafe, the UConn Dairy Bar Ice Cream Truck, and hands-on fun for kids in the Town Square.

At 7:30 p.m., the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry will offer a free guided tour of the current exhibitions, The World of Puppetry: From the Collections of the Ballard Institute and The Bureau of Small Requests: Puppetry and Animation of Laura Heit. The museum will remain open until the movie starts at dusk.

Muppet Treasure Island

Music, fun, and swashbuckling hilarity abound as the Muppets take on Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story of pirate adventure on the high seas. Kermit stars as the good Captain Smollett, who helps guide young Jim Hawkins toward buried pirate treasure. But danger is on the horizon when they learn that the ship’s cook, Long John Silver (Tim Curry), may not be just an ordinary galley hand. As the adventure continues, Jim and Captain Smollett encounter Miss Piggy as Benjamina Gunn, Treasure Island’s worshipped (but dangerous) love goddess. Directed by Brian Henson, the film features a musical score by Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer with songs by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

Rated G
Runtime: 1 hour, 39 minutes

For more information about the Mansfield Downtown Partnership’s Moonlight Movies, visit:

“Canteen Tales: Quest for the Golden Spork” by Shane McNeal on 7/2 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

me on stairsAs part of its popular Summertime Saturday Puppet Shows for family audiences by UConn Puppet Arts students, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry will present Canteen Tales: Quest for the Golden Spork by UConn Puppet Arts MFA student and Connecticut native Shane McNeal on Saturday, July 2 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Ballard Institute Theater located at 1 Royce Circle, Storrs, CT.

Shane McNeal, a third-year MFA candidate in the UConn Puppet Arts Program and native of Bristol, Connecticut, has been interested in the art of puppetry for well over a decade. Coming from an early childhood education background, McNeal has always enjoyed entertaining children of all ages with puppets and storytelling. Over the last two years, McNeal acted as a puppeteer in several projects, including the children’s television pilot of Treeples and in Hartford’s annual performances of Night Fall and Envision Fest. More recently, he performed in ECHO, the UConn Puppet Arts MFA puppet production by Christopher D. Mullens, and assisted with creating, designing, and performing a puppet production with the Boston Pops in May 2016.

In his brand-new show Canteen Tales: Quest for the Golden Spork, join McNeal in the kitchen as everyday objects tell the story of Sir Toby, a valiant knight from the Kingdom of Spün. Watch as he battles ogres, outwits wizards, and saves the day from a terrible dragon!

Upcoming Summertime Saturday Puppet Shows by UConn Puppet Arts students include:

 July 9 – Jacks in the Box by Mark Blashford: Mark Blashford, a third-year Puppet Arts graduate student, performs classic Appalachian Jack Tales and lyric vignettes with suitcases, shadows, rod puppets, and marionettes.

July 16 – The Wonderful World of Wonder by Gavin Cummins: Discover the world of creatures impossible to see, yet who live in this blue marble we call earth. Sea crabs, corpse flowers, and water bears, oh my!

July 23 – Victoria’s Not So Bedtime Story by Krista Weltner and Shane McNeal: Two sisters, Victoria and Margaret, don’t always get along, but when the goal is avoiding bedtime, there is no end to what this dynamic duo will do. Come watch several stories unfold, including The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, The Clockmaker and the Elves, and The House That Jack Built.

July 30 – Luminary by Ana Crăciun-Lambru: Luminary is the tale of a second chance! When humankind takes the world for granted, Raven, its supreme creator, hides the Sun. His daughter, Little Darkness, sets on a quest to bring back the light to the world. Join a rogue storyteller on a journey of light and shadow, found objects and empowering adventures!

August 6 – Superheroes, Villains, and Spaceships, Oh My!–The Return by Anatar Marmol-Gagné and Zach Broome: Anatar Marmol-Gagné & Zach Broome bring you a fantastical tale of intergalactic battles between good and evil.

Admission is $6 for children (12 years and under), $8 for adults.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, by phone at 860.486.8580, or online at A surcharge will be added to any purchases made online. Tickets may also be purchased at the Ballard Institute on the day of performance starting at 10 a.m. There will be a limited number of seats. For more information about these performances, call 860.486.8580.