May 5, 2016
“Hartman’s House,” an original interactive puppet show about inclusion, is now being presented Wednesdays through Saturdays during the summer season at Morgan’s Wonderland in a specially designed theater that can accommodate performers both with and without special needs.
Hartman, the central character of “Hartman’s House,” is a boy in a wheelchair with a big heart and a big imagination, said Nikki Young, entertainment director for the world’s first theme park designed with special-needs individuals in mind and built for everyone’s enjoyment. The 20-minute show will focus on adventures with his family, including his parents, sister Holly and pet bird Rico.
“Each episode presents a fun, humorous situation such as planning a surprise birthday party for a friend in which the characters must face their differences,” Young explained. “Together, with help from the audience, they use imagination and inspiration to work through those differences and achieve a happy ending.”
Longtime Morgan’s Wonderland volunteer Randy Ersch of Fredericksburg built the multi-use, 16-foot-wide by 9.5-foot-high theater. It includes multiple doors and windows that let the puppets interact with human performers and the audience in the tradition of The Muppet Show and Laugh-In TV series. In addition, a ramp enables performers in wheelchairs to take part in shows.
Resa Wohlrabe, art instructor at The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland school for students with special needs and designer of the official 2016 Fiesta San Antonio poster, decorated the multi-colored theater and incorporated a hand-painted Morgan’s Wonderland logo. Lead puppeteer David Pitts consulted on the theater’s functionality and use of space.
“Puppets are ideal for helping children deal with issues associated with special needs and inclusion,” Young said. “Sesame Street has even introduced a Muppet character with autism. Besides, everyone can take part in puppet theater, whether they’re in the audience or in the show. So a show like ‘Hartman’s House’ is a perfect fit for Morgan’s Wonderland, which emphasizes inclusion.”
“Hartman’s House” will be presented on select days during May, then Wednesdays through Saturdays when the park shifts to its summer schedule Monday, May 30, Memorial Day. The latest information on operating days and hours of operation, admissions and special activities can be found at www.MorgansWonderland.com or by calling (210) 495-5888.
Morgan’s Wonderland is currently developing additional programming for the theater, including “No Strings Attached,” a music series featuring both puppet and human performers that’s scheduled to debut this summer.
Encompassing 25 acres in what once was a quarry, Morgan’s Wonderland offers more than 25 wheelchair-accessible attractions including the new Whirling Wonder Ferris wheel where riders can clearly see construction progressing on the Morgan’s Inspiration Island splash park due for completion in spring 2017. The safe, colorful, affordable theme park is located at 5223 David Edwards Drive in Northeast San Antonio a half-mile west of IH 35 at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive.