It’s not exactly mime, or dance, or puppetry – although it certainly incorporates delightful elements from all of those disparate disciplines. While it can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages, it’s never been pitched as children’s theater. And though it bears a healthy resemblance to everything from prop comedy to avant-garde performance art, even those labels don’t quite zero in on what it is that Mummenschanz does.
Call it “mask theater” – or better yet, just call it Mummenschanz, as audiences around the world will instantly get the reference. And this Saturday, the greater Red Bank Green will get its chance, when the internationally touring troupe takes the stage of the Count Basie Theatre for a single 8 pm show.
Formed in Switzerland in the early 1970s by the late Andres Brossard, fellow Euro-born artist Bernie Schürch and American Floriana Frassetto (who continues to perform with the troupe to this day), Mummenschanz first entered the North American consciousness via a series of coast-to-coast tours, culminating in a Broadway engagement that played over 1,300 performances between 1977-80.
Since that time, new members have brought a renewed creative energy to the venerable brand, while the signature Mummenschanz style has become a thing unto itself; influencing artists from Blue Man Group to Mermaid Theatre, and even being spoofed on occasion.
For the single 8 p.m.performance, the troupe brings its gallery of vivid personae, including Slinky Man, those Giant Hands, and that unforgettable Toilet Paper Face.
Tickets ($25 – $39) can be reserved right here.