Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre’s ‘The Bass Saxophone’


Miloa Kasal and Theresa Linnihan with marionettes

Critics recommend Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre’s production of “The Bass Saxophone,” an adaptation by director Vit Horejs of the story by Josef Skvorecky, as great summer entertainment for adults and children alike. Writing in the Family Fare column of The New York Times, Laurel Graeber said, “For those over 10, ‘The Bass Saxophone’ – including also the talents of Deborah Beshaw, Steven Ryan, Ronny Wasserstrom, John Hyde, Colin Stetson and, at the performance I attended, Ed Rosenberg – is a revelation.”

“The Bass Saxophone” depicts a group of jazz-obsessed youth in 1944 German-occupied Czechoslovakia, who risk their lives to attain ‘inner’ freedom by playing, in the words of Goebels, “decadent judeo-negroid music,” or “jazz.”

Horejs stylishly adapts Skvorecky’s vision using puppets, designed and created by Miloa Kasal and Theresa Linnihan.

The production begins outside with live jazz as cast members read radio announcements in which the Nazis condemn certain forms of music and dance. The audience then follows the actors up a spiral staircase to a small space inside the Grand Army Plaza memorial arch, where the rest of the action ensues.

Actors intertwine with puppets, which range from intricate marionettes, to life-size figures, to perform poignant musical numbers and lighthearted songs. wrote, “The location is astonishing, giving limited inside access to a brilliant structure, otherwise not open to the public. The puppets are fantastic, as are a number of the live actors…And the onstage musicians do a great job of bringing this work to full life.”

“The Bass Saxophone” plays through June 25 at the Grand Army Plaza memorial arch, at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue, Eastern Parkway and Prospect Park West, Park Slope, Brooklyn. Saturdays at 2 and 7 p.m.; Sundays at 2 and 5 p.m. The show is free; reserved seats are available with a suggested donation of $18; students and 65+, $11; low income, $10. For further information call (212) 868-4444. Online ticketing is available at

Sasha Levites is a theatre writer with the Jonathan Slaff Organization in New York.