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8-Bit Awesome!

When we were in pre-production meetings, “The Princess Peach Conspiracy” director Joseph White requested that the set and props be “8-bit awesome”…boy did he get what he requested.

Our scenic painters, Artistic Director Meagan Piccochi and PPC Assistant Director Jessica Rae (and help from Michael Owen Achenbach) have been busy bees putting the final touches on our 8-bit set, which was designed by scenic designer Jesse Koontz. Here are some sneak peeks at our “8-bit awesome” set.

These bits of “8-bit awesome” were painted by Meagan.  According to Meagan, “painting 8 bit is a very tediously detailed process,” but these ladies deserve mad props because their hard work looks phenomenal!  (Fun fact about our artistic director, she used to be a professional scenic painter)


These crazy, cool set pieces (Princess Peach go-cart, Mario and Luigi’s toilet, Bowser’s grey bricks and, of course, Bowser’s clown car) were painted by Jessica Rae. To quote Mario, “Woo-hoo, bravo!!”



PPC Tech Weekend

We had a very long tech weekend, but we survived and are feeling good.  We want to give a big shout out to all of the cast and crew for their amazing hard work. Even through the long hours, everyone was happy and in great spirits. We couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful group of people to be working on this project. It was a super packed weekend, so we apologize for not getting many shots, but here are just a few that we managed to capture.

Our bad ass props made by NMTC member Sam Brown.

Our puppet designer Frank Sjodin making last minute touches to Yoshi.

Our costume designer Amber Kessler Freer sewing Princess Peach’s “in game” costume.

Our playwright Megan Mackie came to help out, which was super nice. Here she is painting a set piece.
PPC painting

Our lighting designer Janette Bauer (if you look super close you can see Toad helping out on her monitor), board operator Rachel Hayes and Artistic Director/Sound Designer Meagan Piccochi hard at work.

It was a very hands-on tech, even our director Joseph White was multi-tasking.

Once again, we love this cast and crew, and we are feeling super grateful to work with them!

We open this Friday!!! Get your tickets here. We have a special early bird discount of 2 tickets for $30 available.

Parental Guide to “The Princess Peach Conspiracy”

Dear Parents,

First off, we are beyond grateful that you are interested in our show and that you are taking your kids to theatre.  Part of our mission is to attract new fans of theatre, and capturing the heart of a child is a wonderful way to begin a life-long appreciation of the art-form.

That being said, as some of us are parents here at NMTC, we understand and appreciate you wanting to make sure the show is appropriate for your child.  While our show has not been rated by the MPAA, we will do our best to set up proper expectations.  Is there content they won’t understand? (possibly)   Are there elements they will love? (absolutely!)  This is a live show, so improvisation might change some of this, but this is a good base line so you can know what kind of show to expect.

Things that might go over their heads or need supervision:

-The battles, while similar to the games, there are some that feel more graphic than as seen in video games because it is “live.”  It might need explanation that it is not real and no one is actually getting hurt.  (spoiler alert!!) A head does get smashed into the ground.  As far as violence goes, this show contains no peeling off of faces, killer toy clowns, man-eating trees, or corpse filled pools, just your typical stage combat.

-There is some profanity.  The word “hell” is used quite a bit, and the phrase “cock-blocking son of a bitch” is used.

-There is discussion about war and economics that they might not understand.

-Some of the dialogue moves along pretty fast (think “West Wing”), so they might not catch everything and some scenes might be a bit tedious for younger kids.

-Romance: There is quite a bit of smooching in this show.  (slight spoiler alert) They might get confused because it is the type of romance that is a little more complicated…typical girl going for the bad boy if you will: think Han and Leia.

-There is some adult humor, particularly from one puppet.

-Mario is comically addicted to mushrooms, which we know would land the PG-13 rating because of the drug use.

All this being said, there are things they will totally get a kick out of!

Things they will love:

-Seeing the Mario characters “live” on stage

-Seeing the amazing, custom built puppets and their crazy antics.  Dancing Koopa Troopa; silly-yet-gigantic Yoshi, the bob-bomb!

-The amazing, colorful costumes…we think they will really like Bowser’s “shell”

-Fun edited footage of the game with the actors added voice-overs

-Goofy fights between Bowser and Mario

We truly think that the humor and goofiness of the characters and the puppets will keep them engaged and having fun.  They might not understand everything, but if the above sounds like similar things that happen in movies that they currently enjoy, we hope to see you at the show!

Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions:



Developing Bowser’s Look

Part of the process of art is not everything is going to be perfect on the first time. Just like a script goes through many drafts, the process is very similar in other facets of theater.

In today’s blog, we are going to talk to you about the different stages of development of Bowser’s makeup look. It started off with our makeup designer, Ellen Domonkos, simply experimenting with different techniques to see which would read as “lizard-like” on stage, while maintaining his human-likeness. We tried painting on the scales individually, but the technique that read the cleanest was the “fishnet” technique. With this technique, you use the fishnets as a stencil. You start with the light shadow and highlights on the base, then place the fishnets over the light colors and gently apply the darker color. We started off with only having the scales around the edges of his face:


We liked the way the look turned out, but it wasn’t fully reading “Bowser” from far away. So we continued to develop, this time giving Michael Owen Achenbach, the actor who plays “Bowser,” the chance to practice applying the makeup, in addition to experimenting going a bit further with the look. We liked the way the filter in the above picture gave a redness in the eyes, but when we practiced with that, we realized it wasn’t looking as good as we had hoped. The fun thing about this process is that what you see in these pictures won’t be what you see on stage. After the addition of lights and costumes, minor tweaks will happen to make sure the makeup is crisp and reading from the audience. As you can see in the makeup plot, minor tweaks were added to make the “Bowser” features even more distinct after the second makeup application.  It is a fluid process of experimenting until we find the look that is perfect for all the elements.

The multi-talented Michael Owen Achenbach drew the makeup plot seen below.


Stompable Goomba and more Yoshi

We are pleased to share more photos of the development of Frank Sjodin’s puppets for The Princess Peach Conspiracy!  Frank has built both the Goomba and Yoshi with a 3 layer design – “bones” of wire, “muscle” (Foam for Yoshi, who is much stronger, air-mattress for the weaker Goomba) and “skin” of fabric.

The first picture we would like to share is of the Goomba. This little guy is fully stompable, and we are sure our Mario, Sean Harklerode, will have a blast smashing him to the ground.


Next is more development on Yoshi. Below is the Yoshi head, which has a functional mouth, including Yoshi’s signature extending tongue.


The pieces are all coming together so well!!


Koopa Troopa Puppet

“This shell was made to order. That’s why it fits me so well. I mean, how cool do I look?”
—Koopa Troopa, Paper Mario

We posted about the progress about Koopa Troopa on Valentine’s Day, and we are so excited to show you more development and an official shot by Lauren Wessel of the Koopa Troopa with his puppeteer Ali Keirn.  We have to agree, he looks super “cool”


How excited are you to see these two in action?  Hilarity and cuteness over-load!!

Publicity shot by Lauren Wessel

Re-imagined Look

When our director Joseph H White met with our costume designer Amber Kessler Freer, he said he envisioned bringing the Mario world a sense of grounded-ness and reality. We are so excited with the creative ideas Amber is bringing to the table to execute this idea.

Here are the re-imagined accessories she has chosen for Princess Peach and Bowser:

Princess Peach has jewelry and shoes that are practical yet fashionable for her busy life style.


Bowser will wear colored contacts, custom-built Samurai armor created by Amber, and Ninja Tabi shoes to give him the sense of warrior-meets-turtle/lizard look.


Koopa Troopa ahead!

Hey followers of The Princess Peach Conspiracy blog, before we share the latest puppet progress, we wanted to show you the final touch of the “Bob-bomb”: his key!  Isn’t it perfect?


And now we are excited to share with you the newest threat to the Mushroom Kingdom:
The Koopa Troopa
This fellow is another custom design by Frank Sjodin. He is still a work-in-progress, but he is looking great! Below is a test video of his mouth mechanisms (featuring his lovely wife Susan Sjodin). Hope you are as excited to this guy in action as we are 🙂


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