Think BIG! Theater Arts brings puppetry, acting and storytelling to downtown Patchogue


Think BIG! Theater Arts celebrated a much-anticipated grand opening in Patchogue Sunday as it seeks to offer puppet shows, acting classes and so much more for families in the downtown area.

“We come to Patchogue all the time,” said Shawn Thorgersen, a schoolteacher, playwright and and Think BIG! co-founder, “and, generally speaking, when you’re wrapping up whatever delicious meal it was at a local restaurant, there’s that pause where you go: We’d love to stay — because it’s a cool village — but what do we do now?

“And we’re one of the answers to that question.”

There is a lot to do at Think BIG! Those who showed up or Sunday’s packed open house at 42 South Ocean Avenue found that out quickly.

The open house offered shadow puppetry, a face painter, a live musician doing sing alongs, milk and cookie cabaret shows for kids, finger puppet creations and, of course, puppetry shows.

photos below

“So the kids got to explore all different types of puppetry — and the parents as well — to give them a little bit of a sampling of what our classes are going to start looking like,” said Heather Van Velsor, a co-founder, actor and educational director, as well as Thorgersen’s wife.

The Think BIG! trio is rounded out with puppet maker and actor Frank Longo.

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Think BIG! not only conducts children’s musical and theater workshops; the trio writes and produces original performances. The team goes into participating schools as teaching artists in residency, and provide professional development for school teachers. Their HAVEN chapter offers special training and coaching for adult artists.

They also rent puppets and build puppets to order, as well as do birthday parties.

“Puppetry in general is just on of the most amazing formats of communication there is,” said Longo. “Kids are sponges and their brains are still forming and they still have that sense of wonder about them; they’re not tainted by the world and its surroundings.

“They believe in magic; that’s what is,” he continued. “Whether it’s the Easter Bunny or Santa Clause or Sesame Street, or a puppet they just met in Patchogue, they still believe in that magic.”

Below are just some of the things in store for visitors to Think BIG! Theater Arts.

  • After school classes will be starting in May.
  • Weekend shows will begin soon and run from about 11 a.m., with the last show at 4:30 p.m.
  • Kids Night Out will allow parents to drop a child off at Think Big! for three hours while the parents go enjoy a show or dinner, or both, and the child enjoys the puppet theater.

Visit the website to learn all about their programs, and for updates on future events.

Also click here to sign up for the Thing BIG! events newsletter.

Photos below by Benny Migliorino of Benny Migs Photo in Patchogue

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