GRIFF WILLIAMS

GRIFF WILLIAMS MARIONETTE Collection

A permanent exhibition of The Dream Music Puppetry Program

The puppets on display in the lobby of The Dorothy B. Williams Theatre were given to puppeteer Basil Twist by his grandmother Dorothy B. Williams. They had belonged to her husband, Griff Williams - a big bandleader in the 1930’s and 40’s. Griff was a puppeteer by hobby and began incorporating his vocation into his profession by building puppets in the likeness of other famous big band leaders and conductors of his time.

During performances of the Griff Williams’s Orchestra, the lights would dim, a spotlight would appear on the grand piano and Mr. Williams would bring one of his puppets to life as the bands guest conductor.

These cherished puppets were passed on the Basil Twist, beginning a journey of puppetry that would find its way home to HERE. In 1998, the Dream Music Puppetry Program was inaugurated, still led today by Basil Twist and Co-founder Barbara Busackino, and dedicated the jewel box downstairs theatre to Dorothy B. Williams. This dedication coincided with the premiere of Basil’s signature creation Symphonie Fantastique. The Dream Music Puppetry Program is named after the Griff Williams Orchestra’s theme music. All of this cemented Dorothy’s legacy as a believer in the power of performance and a champion of the imaginative spirit. These historical puppets have a permanent home outside the theatre, and have watched over thousands of artists over the past 18 years.

I am very proud of my own work at HERE and all the puppetry that is created and presented through the Dream Music Puppetry Program.

The puppets from left to right are: Harry James, Griff Williams, Cab Calloway, Arturo Toscannini, Ted Lewis, Paul Whiteman.

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