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Puppeteers for Fears brings its stew of puppets, horror, music, and butt jokes to Olympia

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A research organization that has released declassified Department of Defense footage in the past posted a new video last week, which they said shows US Navy footage of an unidentified flying object off the east coast of the United States in 2015.

A touring horror-comedy musical about Bigfoot and UFOs makes an Olympia stop on Friday, playing for one night only at Le Voyeur.

It’s called “Cattle Mutilation: The Musical” — and it’s a puppet show.

“Cattle Mutilation,” currently touring the Northwest, is the work of the Ashland, Oregon-based puppet troupe/rock band Puppeteers for Fears.

The group’s name — along with the fact that one of the troupe’s previous efforts was a musical about Cthulhu, a monster created by sci-fi master H.P. Lovecraft — tells you most of what you need to know about whether this show is for you.

You should also know that Puppeteers for Fears founder and playwright Josh Gross (yes, that’s his name) admits he thought seriously about calling the troupe “Hand in Butt Theater,” a name that makes sense for a puppet company and fits this show particularly well given that anal probing is a major plot element. It does involve alien abductions, after all.

“There’s a lot of butt jokes,” he told The Olympian. “There’s a whole song called “In the butt,” which out of context would just sound crass.”

The context is, well, it’s a puppet show.

“Sometimes, people don’t laugh at the very start because they have to kind of acclimate to it,” he said. “Then, about 5 minutes in, they get it. … It’s like stepping into a cartoon.”

This will be the Puppeteers’ Olympia debut, but the group brought “Cthulhu” to Seattle two years ago, selling out multiple performances.

“If you’re looking for a night out, but you’re tired of traditional theatre or music shows, you should definitely come see this and quench your thirst for epic original performance art,” John Paul Sharp wrote in a review for the Seattle Gay Scene.

The troupe was twice voted Best Theater Company by readers of The Rogue Valley Messenger, an every-other-week newspaper for southern Oregon based in Medford. (The Messenger excludes the Oregon Shakespeare Festival from the vote, if you were wondering.)

The puppets are all handmade; check out Bigfoot in the video “Bigfoot’s Lament”. And the show also features an original soundtrack — with Gross on drums.

In other words, it’s as much rock show as it is puppet show.

“The music is really fun,” Gross said. “We tried to pack in some space-age guitar themes, but we also sneak in what I call Easter eggs. In some of the songs, there are little bits of other pop songs like a sly wink and nod to the audience.”

Indeed, “Lament” incorporates references to the 1975 soft-rock hit “All By Myself” and The Ting Tings’ hard-hitting 2008 “That’s Not My Name.”

Yet the song also has a tender side — which is as much a part of the Puppeteers for Fears aesthetic as Gross’ gross moments. Bigfoot just wants to be accepted despite the enormous feet that are his biggest problem, at least until the aliens beam him up.

Gross’ own mom praised the show’s heartwarming message when she saw it in Ashland, but found some of the humor a bit much.

“I was like, ‘Mom, they’re doing “Hamlet” across the street. Everyone gets murdered in that show,’ ” he recalls. “No one dies in our show. They all learn a lesson about getting along with each other. They just make a few fart jokes along the way.”

Puppeteers for Fears

  • What: Puppeteers for Fears — possibly be the world’s only horror musical puppet troupe/rock band — brings its latest production, “Cattle Mutilation: The Musical,” to Olympia.
  • When: 9 p.m. Friday, July 19
  • Where: Le Voyeur, 404 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia
  • Tickets: $10-$20 donation suggested
  • More information: 360-943-5710, voyeurolympia.com, puppeteersforfears.com
  • Watch: Check out “Bigfoot’s Lament,” one of the songs from “Cattle Mutilation,” at youtu.be/-hb8sfjqVX8.
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