Bar Harbor troupe performs at Houlton Elementary School

Karen Donato, Special to The County
6 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — Houlton Elementary School’s Parent Teachers Organization sponsored the Frogtown Mountain puppeteer’s show, “The Grinch”, on Monday, Dec. 4 as a Christmas treat for students.

The tour group of three siblings performed two shows for nearly 400 students in pre-k to second grade. Students were mesmerized with the antics of the characters from this familiar Christmas show.

Siblings Erik and Brian Torbeck and Robin (Torbeck) Erlandsen created their theatre company in 2000 in Bar Harbor. Since then they have added to their repertoire with four shows they perform throughout the state and beyond. These shows include: “Everybody Loves Pirates,” “The Legend of Banana Kid,” “The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow” and “The Grinch.” They have performed their other shows here in Houlton, but this was the first time for the Grinch.

Frogtown puppeteers have 14 shows scheduled for December within the state. They not only perform in schools, but also at libraries and public events within communities. The group creates their own scripts, uses their own voices to depict several characters and selects the music to compliment the scenes. The group is able to intertwine humor, not only for students, but adults as well. In The Grinch performance, the main character was referred to a popular psychiatrist who lived on the hill, none other than “Dr. Phil,” a well-known television personality in real life.

The Torbeck’s make most of their own props and many are from repurposed items found at home or in their community. Most of the props are made from cardboard, wood and fabric.  Following each performance the group opens up the stage area to show the audience the workings of the behind the scenes and the props they use. They also take questions from the students.

The Torbeck’s emphasize the importance of reading, math and art. They instill the need to have these skills to be successful in all jobs students may have in the future. They also emphasize working together, doing research and completing work. They are working on a new show about dinosaurs.

The family troupe has earned citations of Excellence from Union Internationale de la Marionette-International Puppetry Association. For a schedule of performances or to reserve a performance visit: