Bob Baker Marionette Theater

Meet Daisy Hernandez: A 3rd Generation Bob Baker Spotlight Operator!

Daisy Hernandez looking down from the spotlight booth.

Daisy Hernandez looking down from the spotlight booth.

I remember my cousins and I playing handball on this giant white building at the end of the parking lot not knowing what was behind those walls. I always remembered this man (Bob Baker) giving us ice cream from the side door of the building when he saw us playing there. I was around the age of 10 when I saw my first show there and I was fascinated by the lights, the music, the puppets, and of course the ice cream.

Circa 1992. Puppeteer Cesar and Daisy’s Aunt.

Circa 1992. Puppeteer Cesar and Daisy’s Aunt.

Circa 1992. Puppeteer Cesar and “Cook” marionette.

Circa 1992. Puppeteer Cesar and “Cook” marionette.

My name is Daisy Hernandez, I've lived across the street from the Bob Baker Marionette Theater my whole life and I am a third generation spotlight operator. My aunt used to do spot back in 1992, but she never really talked about her time at the Theater so I guess she kind of just forget it was there until my cousins and I started asking about what we thought was inside that building so she took us to see a show and the rest was history.

Daisy puppeteering Percy, one of the Birthday Dogs.

Daisy puppeteering Percy, one of the Birthday Dogs.

In 2013 my sister started working at the theater as the secretary, answering phone calls or booking roadshows but later worked her way up to spotlight. After some time she wasn't able to do weekend shows because of her conflicting hours with her other job so she trained me to cover for her and i've been doing spot ever since but little by little I've worked my way backstage helping out with lights or drops or handouts and on occasion a puppet or two. Getting to be a part of the Bob Baker family means so much to me, because not only is it a part of my childhood but getting to see the joyful smiles on the children's faces when a puppet sits on their lap or getting excited when the emcee announces they’re getting ice cream after the show is over is just priceless and something you'll only get to experience at a Bob Baker Marionette show. After five years of being in that crows nest or behind that big red curtain I know one thing is for sure, where ever the puppets go I’m sure to follow.

Daisy operating the spotlight!

Daisy operating the spotlight!

Behind the Keys: An Interview with our organist Mr. Fred!

fred1.jpg

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater’s Director of Development Winona Bechtle interviews our Organist Mr. Fred!

afternoon! Tell us a little bit about yourself, Mr. Fred!

I am Fred Kolouch, and I play the organ at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater. I moved here about 3 years ago and I was just driving around town one day getting on the highway and I saw the Bob Baker Marionette Theater at a time when I was trying to find some cool places to check out. I was curious and looked it up later and ended up going for my birthday and was totally wowed by the show– I saw “Something to Crow About.” It felt like it was out of a dream, the fact that something like this would exist was mind-blowing. It’s so decorative and there’s something so cinematic about the lighting– everything about it is magical.

So I saw the show and was blown away, and another year went by and I signed up to volunteer. I poked my head in one day on a Wednesday evening to see what was going on and mentioned I was interested in doing some lighting… and I noticed the organ. It was kind of out of use and there were a couple of funky rattling sounds it made so I wanted to fix it. I spent one of my days opening up the organ and checking it out and taking out each later of circuitry, and I figured out that it was a broken speaker so I got it replaced and it started sounding great, so now I play it whenever I get the opportunity.

My first experience playing the organ was in middle school when my grandmother gave me a Wurlitzer.

fred2.jpg

Did you take formal lessons or are you self taught?

I’m self taught on the organ, but I started learning piano on this old Apple software called Miracle– it comes with a mini keyboard and you learn to play songs like “Tea for Two” and things like that, and it’s like Mario Teaches Typing but you learn how to play the piano. So you shoot ducks and stuff… it has really funny graphics, and from there I started writing my own compositions and then my parents signed me up for lessons. My first lessons were blues and jazz right from the beginning because that type of music encourages people to write their own music more freely as opposed to learning classical sheet music, so it complemented my ability to improvise and strengthened my ability to play on the keyboard.

Tell us about the selections you play at the Theater.

I currently play lots of the songs I learned back from taking piano lessons, like “St James Infirmary” and a lot of classic Fats Domino songs and old blues, rock ‘n roll type of songs… so there’s that, and my Dad would always recommend ideas for songs that might sound great for the organ. So when I was growing up and in high school and college he would introduce me to a lot of music that was from the 60s or 70s, lots of surf rock and things that he listened to as a kid. And I loved the tunes so on my own I learned the songs by just listening to them. And so with that I had the knowledge of improvisation from my lessons so I could figure out the basic structure of the songs which is how I pick up a lot of songs at the Theater.

Lately at the Theater I’ve been playing “Danse Macabre,” a classic Halloween song, I’m also playing “The Gonk” which is the song at the end of Dawn of the Dead. I also have been playing Telstar in Minor! It’s fun watching the Bob Baker shows after performing because I start hearing the songs and recognizing where Bob pulled them from, all of the music that is already played in the shows are songs that I’m familiar with and things I’ve listened to, so it’s exciting to learn the songs that I already gravitate toward.

What does the future look like for Mr. Fred?

Well I’m really thrilled and excited to continue playing organ music wherever the Theater goes! I went to the Old Town Music Hall and I loved the fact that the organ was kind of embedded into the Theater and there’s something almost “puppeteer-ish” about the glockenspiel and the things that go off with the black lights… there’s a weird synergy happening with that place and what you see at the Bob Baker. So I’m interested in how something like that might manifest in the new space.

And when you’re not at the Theater, where can we find you?

I have a background in a film, and I have a job working at the Planetarium at the Griffith Observatory. I run the shows there and we work with a live presenter, kind of like a lecturer. I project the stars and all that– I am also editing the new Planetarium show which will come out in 2020. So I’ve been behind the scenes with the animation crew and I’ve been cutting together this show called “Signs of Life” which is their next big show. It’s editing a lot of animation so it’s a really interesting new type of project for me.

fred3.jpg