A dubbing dilemma

When Penn’s Woods Puppet Theater started, dialogue was delivered live. Puppets could react spontaneously to musket fire, motorcycles, music, whatever; they were very lifelike.

Plus, they never missed a cue; we didn’t say the line until the puppet was ready to deliver it – very different from pre-recorded audio. But two women providing all the voices was confusing and difficult; reading scripts while working puppets was no picnic either.

Attempts were made, with some success, to alter our voices; committing scripts to memory worked fine until one day I delivered a line from a different show. It was time to pre-record.

It was pretty disappointing hearing our voices as the audience did. The need for voice-over actors was apparent.

There were a few different routes. The classifieds were bad idea; every nut in town had our number.

The best success was community theater. The actors’ interpretations were a vast improvement over ours.

Another source were puppet guilds. In “Love Sails to London” the Thomas Graeme character needed a Scottish accent. He came to life thanks to the Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre.

We were sold on getting accents for other characters. One of the many funny episodes in this odyssey started with a response to our posting for a Boston accent for Ben Franklin.

A gentleman from Alabama, who assured us that he was a “master of voices,” said he would have no trouble rendering a New England accent. His audition tape was hilarious.

We eventually hired a professional voice artist, but not before meeting Tony, a local actor who wanted to give it a try. Well…(sigh)…Ben didn’t really sound like a man from Boston…but let there be no mistake…he was definitely a guy from Philly.

Robin and Susan Tafel, 215-441-4154,

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x