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'Puppet Shakespeare' Takes On 'Titus Andronicus'

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Shakespeare plays are usually categorized as comedies or tragedies, and it's quite rare for them to switch, but a new off-Broadway production turns everything upside down with the help of a rock star and some of his less edgy friends. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report.

Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" is a bloody, violent work. It's crude. It's brutal. But it just might be the feel-good hit of the summer.

Hard-rocking Dee Snider of Twisted Sister fame and beyond is a producer of this Puppet Shakespeare production. His son, Shane, is a puppeteer. Oh, and this just happens to be Shakespeare's most hated play.

"Because it is so gratuitous with its violence and sex, and just, it's terrible, wonderfully terrible, which is perfect for a puppet show," Dee Snider says.

Simon: What is it that's just so inherently hilarious hilarious about something that looks like this? (see photo at left).
Shane Snider: Something inherently hilarious about this. Well, the first thing is, you are immediately felt awkward just by approaching me. You were like, 'OK, do I look at this guy or do I look at that guy?' The tension begins."

Dee Snider said he always comes out to support his kids' careers. And this native New Yorker is no stranger to theater. He performed in the hit Broadway musical "Rock of Ages."

"People say to me, they're shocked to see, 'Well, I'm really surprised to find you involved in theatre.' Really? What was it about the makeup and costumes that didn't scream Broadway?" he says.

For those of us that grew up with The Muppets, seeing the puppeteers on stage is a new phenomenon. In this case, it only adds to the humor.

"You get to the point of the, 'No, you know what? Mic-ing the puppet seems odd.' You don't know what to do," Shane Snider says.

"Puppets aren't real," Dee Snider says. "Oh, wait a minute. Spoiler alert. Did I just ruin it for some kids? Sorry."

Simon: Now, to interview one of the world's finest Shakespearean actors, I've decided to get into costume myself, Aaron, what do you think?
Boar: Well, it's Elizabethan, and this is kind of Roman, as you can see by the columns. But I'd say good try."

Alright. Well, as you can see, this "Roman" tragedy turned comedy is definitely not a bore. It's playing at the Beckett Theater on West 42nd Street. Tickets start at $50. For more information, visit puppetshakespeare.org.

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