Press Release - Sleeping Beauty


PRESS RELEASE: the tail of Sleeping Beauty with puppets
Introducing The Starlings: NWCT's New All-Puppet, All-Bird Acting Troupe

Friday, January 6, 2017

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The Tale of Sleeping Beauty is one the world’s oldest and most revered fairy tales… and it has just been hijacked by a company of crazy bird puppets. Making their NWCT Mainstage debut,
The Starlings will stop at nothing in their quest to seize the spotlight and re-write history. This madcap musical features catchy original songs by Portland duo The Bylines.

The brainchild of NWCT Artistic Director Sarah Jane Hardy and John Ellingson (Associate Artistic Director, puppeteer, and performer), The Starlings are a collection of passionate puppet performers. This bird-puppet troupe features a range of unique personalities and designs, from the smallest hand-puppet (a pair of gloves and two foam eyes) to a large-scale bird that requires two actors to bring to life. Together, these puppets are retelling the classic story of Sleeping Beauty, from a birds eye view. The onstage performance will follow two narratives, the classic fairytale itself and a peek behind the curtain as The Starlings comment on and re-work the show in real time.

Hand-created by Ellingson, each puppet took months to reach the stage. A 2016 recipient of the Leslie O. Fulton Fellowship, Ellingson traveled to England for the Beverley Puppet Festival seeking inspiration. Here he discovered a range of imaginative designs that would go on to inform the creation of The Starlings. Upon returning home, he was greeted by a $20,000 grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust to complete the puppets and mount their first ever production, The Tale of Sleeping Beauty.

The Starlings consist of a core group of principal characters, including veteran thespian “Old Wise” (Andres Alcala), legendary “Diva” (Camille Trinka), “Big Boss” (Sam Burns), and shy newcomer “Little One” (played by Ellingson himself). Supporting them is a large, colorful ensemble made up of dozens of different puppets.

“We wanted to create something immersive, that exists before the curtain is raised and after the final bows,” says Director Sarah Jane Hardy. “To accomplish this John has created a small army of bird puppets, who will appear throughout our building, before, after, and during the show.”

These offstage, immersive roles will include puppet ushers, stage techs, and Box Officers, creating a bird-filled world the moment you set foot inside the building. In addition, each core character will continue to exist beyond The Tail of Sleeping Beauty, through The Starlings Youtube Channel featuring weekly vignettes and stories following their adventures in Portland. Already, you can follow the first Starling, Getty (the Go-Getter!) an aspiring bird journalist and Artslandia Magazine’s Youth Ambassador, in her own online interview series.

The Tail of Sleeping Beauty… with Puppets! is produced in part through a generous grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust. Additional support comes from the Regional Arts and Culture Council and Work for Art, Kafoury & McDougal, the Collins Foundation, Schwabe, Williamson, & Wyatt, the Oregon Arts Commission, ZipCar, World of Smiles, and NWCT Donor Circle Members.


WHERE: NW Neighborhood Cultural Center • 1819 NW Everett Street, Portland • Participants pick up their event programs and start tour here.


Online sales available at

WHEN: January 28 - February 26, 2017

SHOW TIMES: noon & 3pm 

WHERE: NW Neighborhood Cultural Center • 1819 NW Everett Street, Portland • Participants pick up their event programs and start tour here.

TICKETS: 503-222-4480 or online at

INFO: 503-222-4480 or


Release Date: January 6, 2017

End Date: February 26, 2017

Media Contact: To set up interviews or discuss other possibilities for feature stories, please contact: Marri-Beth Serritella, Sucha Production at 503-528-1370 or



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