I GOING PLACES
WEEK OF March 18-24
Schiffman tells a tale with the help of her puppet friend, Coco the Monkey.
Maureen Schiffman finds that the children
for whom she entertains are really the show
DEBBIE WALLIS LANDAU
Special to The Jewish News
oco the Monkey is not
shy. He just doesn't
know you well yet,"
tells her young
The children puzzle over the pup-
pet tucking his furry head under his
mistress' arm. Will he talk? Will he
play his much publicized kazoo?
Schiffman tells the kids not to
worry. "If you talk to him first, he'll
say something to you."
Letting children — and puppets
— open up at their own pace is a
message Schiffman hopes adults will
adapt when they're inclined to label
youngsters as shy, untalented, slow,
or any other tag.
"Labeling is so unfair to kids.
Once you do it, the child is stuck
in a mold. I don't like to see kids
pushed to do what they're uncomfort-
Schiffman doesn't push them.
Rather, she draws them almost
magnetically into her warm reper-
toire of storytelling, puppeteering
and musical jamborees.
The first grader who won't per-
form for Grandma and Grandpa fear-
lessly faces his peers and oinks like
a pig. The kid whose parents never
thought he was musically inclined
grabs a tambourine and joins a
marching band in progress.
These and other scenes are com-
monplace at any of the numerous
local gatherings featuring Schiff-
man's unique blend of entertainment.
They're unique because she's more
than willing to share top billing with
her junior audiences.
"I enjoy their lack of inhibition.
There's a little bit of Peter Pan in me;'
she admits. "I relate well to children:'
Whether singing one of here own
creations or a classic favorite like
The Little Old Lady Who Swallowed
a Fly, telling a story with her puppets
or initiating a sing-along, Schiffman
has no difficulty gaining captive lis-
teners. Her identification with pre-
schoolers and elementary-age kids
has been capitalized on by parents
110 Battle Alley, Holly, Barbara
Scott Thursday through March
26,Downtown Tony Brown, now
through Saturday, admission,
DUFFY'S ON THE LAKE
3133 Cooley Lake Rd., Union
Lake, Bob Posch and John
Cionca, now through March 9:30
and 11:30 p.m. Fridays and
COMEDY CASTLE AT
29900 Van Dyke, Warren, Larry
Wilson today and Saturday, Gary
Mule Deer, Tuesday through
March 26, 751-6010.
2593 Woodward, Carol Leifer,
now through Saturday, Vic
Dunlop, Tuesday through March
26, admission, 542-9900.
who are tired of the pizza palace and
burger party circuit.
Once thought a vanishing institu-
tion, the home birthday party has
been making a strong comeback in
Oakland County, thanks to perform-
ers like Schiffman who brings props
and personae to private homes.
"Maureen isn't one of those per-
formers who merely stands in front of
a group and puts on a show;' observes
Judy Ostrow, a loCal artist who has
engaged Schiffman's services for her
two children's parties and who has
helped her create some of the puppets
used in her shows.
"She gets down on the floor with
the kids, she finds out what they're
interested in and capable of. Where
other people will consider rowdy
children wild, Maureen calls them
spirited or excited, and she en-
courages them to put their energy in-
to the routine. She's very flexible;'
Ostrow praises, and "she's an ex-
Last month, she joined a YMCA-
sponsored "Father-Daughter" retreat
in Holly, Mich. She was also a fea-
MEADOW BROOK THEATER
on Oakland University campus,
Rochester, Deathtrap Thursday
through April 17, admission,
3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit,
Marcel Marceau, Friday and
Saturday, admission, 833-3700.
MUSIC HALL CENTER
350 Madison Ave., Detroit, five
one act plays by Tennessee
Williams, 8 p.m. Thursday,
Village Players Playhouse,
Birmingham, The Boyfriend
today through April 2,
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Power Center, Ann Arbor, Every
Good Boy Deserves Favour, Wolf
now through Sunday, admission,
13103 Woodrow Wilson, Detroit,
The Colored Museum, Mornings
at Seven now through May 8,
415 South Lafayette, Royal Oak,
Bedroom Farce now through
March 26, admission, 541-6430.
Varner Studio Theater,
Rochester, Futher West now
through March 27, admission,
THE AVON PLAYERS
Continued on Page 59
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS