Review: String City

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Kids can learn country history through a great puppet show at the Nashville Public Library!

Country music’s history is told in a vibrant new way thanks to a collaboration between Nashville Public Library’s Wishing Chair Productions and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The result of the two year creation is String City: Nashville’s Tradition of Music and Puppetry. This delightful show features more than 30 magnificently handcrafted marionettes, rod puppets and shadow puppets that entertain audiences of all ages with country’s history from its humble beginnings to its modern-day mainstream success. The history is told through music, and the soundtrack features snippets of songs from each artist’s original recordings. It’s a spectacular vehicle for introducing young children to country music, and the production is highly entertaining for adults as well.

The hour-long performance focuses on Nashville’s transformation into Music City. Among the artists represented who propel the history of country music’s growth are The Carter Family (“Wildwood Flower”), Roy Acuff (“Wabash Cannonball”), Minnie Pearl (comedy clips from the Opry), Hank Williams (“Hey, Good Lookin'”), Johnny Cash (“Folsom Prison Blues” and “Ring of Fire”), Patsy Cline (“Walking After Midnight”), Loretta Lynn (“Coal Miner’s Daughter”) Dolly Parton (“Coat of Many Colors” and “I Will Always Love You”), George Straight (“All My Exes Live in Texas”), Garth Brooks (“Friends in Low Places”), Vince Gill (“Liza Jane”), Dixie Chicks (“Wide Open Spaces”) and more.

Each puppet is crafted in extreme detail, and two of them — Dolly Parton and Hank Williams — are the creation of Tennessee’s Phillip Huber who is known for his work with marionettes, particularly in Being John Malkovich and Disney’s Oz, the Great and Powerful.

Lots of funny fare fills the stage throughout the show, like Patsy Cline singing “Walking After Midnight” to a frisky raccoon, George Jones singing “The Race is On” to three dangling possums (his nickname was “Possum”) and the fact that the Dixie Chicks puppets are baby chickens.

It was great fun to see the world premiere in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s intimate Ford Theater on June 11.

"Roy Acuff" entertains kids on the red carpet at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum prior to the world premiere of String City on June 11.

“Roy Acuff” entertains kids on the red carpet at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum prior to the world premiere of String City on June 11.

You can take your kids to catch free performances of String City at the Nashville Public Library’s main branch on Fridays and Saturdays in July at 10 and 11:30 a.m.

This must-see production makes for a perfect family outing this summer that your family will never forget.

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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