DO pay attention to that man behind the curtain, as Red Bank oRBit returns from holiday break with a look at a long-running local attraction that’s as brilliantly conceived and executed as it is unique to our fair Shore — although, if you’re older than six years old, you may not have been clued in on it.

Paper Moon Puppet Theatre is the brainchild of Middletown resident Jim Racioppi, whose 14 seasons on the custom-scaled stage at First Avenue Playhouse continue into the new year with a beautiful marionette ballet of The Nutcracker. In today’s edition, we meet the master puppeteer/ director/ designer and his crew, as they enter into a busy week that includes an extra midweek performance in Atlantic Highlands, AND a special Wednesday visit to the kids’ room at the Red Bank Public Library.

It’s one of the best kept secrets on the local arts scene — and you’ll read all about it, as we stay up late to see off 2009, ONLY in Red Bank oRBit!