And in a show that’s this elaborate, do you find there’s still room for improvisation?
BT: There are sections where Joey does, at the concert at the end in particular. The puppeteers have very specific tracks, so they need to stick to their plan. [Laughs] But Joey has the freedom and the skill to play around that when there’s room for that. And there are some scenes that allow for that, where he interacts with the audience more.

JA: Yeah. Especially in a show like this, where you’ve got to be absolutely spot-on because of the lighting, I can’t just take off and walk into the dark.

BT: The stage we originally made it on was tiny, tiny, tiny, so a couple of inches would make a huge difference, where a piece of scenery couldn’t come on.

Joey, are you still going in and out of Zumanity?

JA: No, not at all, but the checks keep coming in and out. [Laughs] Because I wrote three songs for the show, and I don’t get credit for the dialogue and all the extra stuff, but I get credit for the songwriting. But that’s something that I created, and something that will always be strictly Joey Arias.

Basil, have you considered branching out into feature film? Stop-motion animation seems to have gotten a lot more popular over the last decade or so, and it seems like it would be a field that’s tailor-made to your talents.
BT: Well, stop-motion animation is very related to puppetry, it’s a lot of the same spirit behind it. But I like live theater, I have to say. I like the live experience. There’s something great about it. And puppetry, as elaborate as our show is, it’s very simple, it’s like a Little Rascals production in a barn, a lot of strings and tape and felt and fabric. And I like that low-tech spirit that puppetry uses to create such fantastic things, as opposed to computer-generated imagery and stuff, which seems to me to be such a cop-out. So, I don’t know, I wouldn’t totally pass up any film opportunity, but I’m very much a live theater person.

Tags: Theater