Beloved Bob Baker Marionette Theater will leave its longtime home, open in new location

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The landmark Bob Baker Marionette Theater announced today that it will leave its longtime home on Glendale Boulevard and First Street by the end of November.

The building that has housed the theater for more than five decades is slated to be demolished at an unknown date to make way for a mixed-use development. The theater was offered a space in the new project but decided to strike out on its own.

The beloved theater and its puppets will hold a day-long celebration on November 23—the institution’s final day in its present location and 55 years to the day from when the theater opened in 1963.

Around that time, the organization plans to announce the location of its new permanent LA home.

Regardless of where the theater goes in the city, “we will continue to offer the Westlake community creative resources and access to the ongoing events,” theater operators said in a statement. Puppeteers take part in outreach initiatives in local schools and throughout the neighborhood around the theater.

If everything goes according to schedule, the marionette theater’s new location will be up and running by the end of 2019, says spokesperson Winona Bechtle.

With its bright red curtains and prolific tinsel, the original marionette theater will be a hard act to follow, but the future home of the Bob Baker Marionette Theater will be based on “original and unrealized concepts by Bob Baker himself,” as seen in drawings by Morton Haack—the costume designer for the original Planet of the Apes—sketched nearly 60 years ago.



The new theater will also incorporate “all the beloved features of the current theater, from the drywall to the chandeliers.”

Between November 23 and the opening of the theater’s new home, the marionettes will hit the road for a series of traveling engagements and pop-up appearances from the Pasadena Playhouse to the Santa Monica Pier.

The organization will also launch the Bob Baker Marionette Mobile, “a traveling ice cream truck and puppet caravan.”

Bob Baker and Alton Wood opened the marionette theater in 1963. Both were puppeteers.

Baker worked on numerous films, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and episodes of Star Trek, according city documents related to the theater’s landmarking.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the new theater would open by the end of this year. It will open by the end of next year.

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