The Magic Of Puppetry Is Very Much Alive

“The magic is gone. It’s… it’s just gone.”

I had just walked into what remained of Peewinkle’s Puppet Studio. What didn’t make the news was this: A careless tenant living in the space upstairs from Peewinkle’s had set accidental fire to their quarters, triggering sprinklers to drench the apartment AND Peewinkle’s. Water drips were visible on the walls, the floors soaked with moisture and the storage space for all those wonderfully ancient puppets bowing from the weight of water.

Now in its third generation of the family, Peewinkle’s Puppets is lead by Peggy Melchior {the 2nd gen mom behind the business also known as Melchior Marionettes}, friend Debbi White and daughter Heidi Shackleford.

And Debbi was the one who had just uttered those words about magic. The words broke my heart. It was Saturday, 9/27 and Peewinkle’s was attempting to prepare for the opening of their Halloween show.

Peewinkle’s Puppets is one of the places I tell virtually all moms with young kids about. Our theCityMoms adorn each season’s opening with a group of our members, and as one of the first activities we did as a family after moving to Indianapolis, it surprises me the lack of people who don’t know about it.

I can’t recall what captured me first:

• The brightly-painted red front door beckoning us inside
• The sweet puppeteers in training {known as ‘PIPs’} who hand each family a small bag of popcorn for the show and try their hand at lighting, hosting and other behind-the-scenes needs
• The small and intimate theater with bench-style seating and signs declaring little people near the middle and adults on the sides for best visibility
• The clear passion in the eyes of Peggy, Debbi and Heidi while they perform onstage
• The timeless performance art of puppetry that seems lost on the masses – Do you have any idea what a true art form it is? In the days of tech-this and personal player-that, to draw your attention to these intricate marionettes being carefully manipulated by the slight of a hand is incredible

No wait. I do remember what captured me: It was watching my H and Em stare breathlessly at the stage and what Peggy, Debbi and Heidi were doing on it. There’s no other word to use than ENCHANTED. This isn’t a store-bought puppet behind a curtain – it’s the handcrafted {by one of the three owners} marionette in this tiny theater ENCHANTING my kids. Nothing holds their attention for more than 10 minutes. But when we walk through the doors of Peewinkle’s, they become transfixed. And one look around in the crowd makes me realize it isn’t just H & Em. It’s all the kids. And their parents. In that 45 minute show, you are taken back to your childhood, legs swinging off the bench, entranced by the delicate movements.

And Debbi, that right there is the real magic. No flood or destruction can change that. As long as you, Peggy and Heidi are onstage, bringing this incredible art form to life, your magic will return.

My Em cried buckets when I told her about Peewinkle’s. Like heaping, inconsolable sobs. And admittedly I didn’t have a lot of faith that they would bounce back so quickly. But when I walked through those doors and saw the PIPs and families and friends all pitching in where they could, I knew I could tell Em it would all be okay.

Because it will. There’s magic at work here.

MORE INFORMATION: Peewinkle’s Puppet Studios WILL reopen in time for their Halloween shows. The Studio is located at 25 E. Henry Street in downtown Indianapolis. Their Halloween run begins Saturday, 10/11 and runs through the end of the month. Prices are $12/pp. Kids ages 2 and under are always free. See the full schedule of dates and purchase tickets at

Disclosure: Jeanine is a member of the Peewinkle’s Puppet Studio Board of Directors.

Indy's Child
Indy's Child
For 40 years, Indy's Child has been the trusted source for Indianapolis families seeking fun, educational, and enriching experiences. Our award-winning magazine and website are dedicated to providing expert advice, insider tips, and up-to-date information on everything from the best local attractions and events to parenting resources and support. As local experts deeply rooted in the central Indiana community, our passionate team at Indy's Child is dedicated to uncovering the best family-friendly experiences and resources our city has to offer. Whether you're new to parenting or looking for new ideas, Indy's Child is here to help you enjoy the adventure of raising a family in central Indiana.

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