Inside Madcap Education Center’s New Building

Puppetry comes to life at the new Madcap Education Center, a long time in the making.

Photograph by Aaron M. Conway

The first weekend of November, Madcap puppets put on a show the size of its new home: face painting and balloon animal–making; tap, hip-hop, and musical dance classes; yoga; a puppet-creation Q&A; and more. Topped off , of course, with a Madcap performance each night of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The big to-do was years in the making, and celebrated the opening of the new Madcap Education Center in Westwood.

In 2012, the nonprofit organization—which was founded in 1981 and merged with/ now operates under the west-side arts organization Cincinnati Landmark Productions as of March 2017—purchased a stately 20,000-square-foot brick-and-stone building on Harrison Avenue. The building lived a former life as a Cincinnati Bell telephone switching station, and they hoped to give it a new life as an arts center with a variety of summer camps and arts education classes, as well as a theater to seat more than 120 people and a home for their touring puppet troupe. But big dreams require big budgets (and the timeline to match), and this space needed to be cleared out and fully renovated, to the tune of $4.5 million, before it could host all that was envisioned for it.

The work done and the building ready for action, Madcap has its inaugural season rolling, with the Family Performance Series ending in May with Rumpelstiltskin: A Puppet Musical. Madcap Puppets also features touring shows like, The Great Space Caper and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz now through August 2019. In addition, classes are kicking up—the November grand opening celebration just a sampler of what’s to be.

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