Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater

Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater

Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater

The Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater is a great little operation that anyone with (or without) kids should check out. As of 2007, it has been in operation for 60 years making it the longest running puppet theater in the United States!

The days of quality puppetry has all but disappeared thus, it is a delight to find multiple puppet shows every week at the Marie Hitchcock Theater. Shows include classics like Sleeping Beauty, Jack in the Beanstalk, and Rumpelstiltskin; however, contemporary stories are also on the showcase.

The Puppet Theater was originally called the Palisades Building and it was made for the California Pacific International Exposition in 1935-36. Many different organizations were housed in the building until, in 1947, Marie Hitchcock and her sister Genevieve Engman performed the first puppet show. Since then, puppet shows have been ongoing and in 1988, the theater was named after Marie in honor of her dedication to the craft.

Today, the theater is bathed in warm wood colors and offers cozy seating for over 200 people (though, it is rarely a full-house event). The stage is raised so every seat is a good seat. There is a shelf of puppets (gift shop) where you can buy puppets to create your own shows. Prices for puppets range from $5 to $30.

Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater

What to Expect

Get tickets at the box office just to the right of the front door. Box office opens half an hour before show time. Shows are about 30 to 45 minutes long and it is not unusual to hear a baby or two cry during the performance.

Professional and amateur puppeteers use marionettes, hand, rod, and/or shadow puppets to give you a good-for-a-laugh puppet show. Though some shows are classics, the puppeteers have a talent for weaving new life into the old stories.

Shows will differ depending on the puppeteer. On this particular occasion, puppeteer Millie Patterson begins the show at a spinning wheel. At the end of the show, she brought out Tico, the theater mascot. Children can approach Tico for a closer look and then dance with him towards the theater's exit.

This is a low key, family friendly performance, so go with that in mind. It is not Hollywood: there will be no special effects or light shows - just lots of homegrown fun, the kids will love it.

Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater

Interested in more? Join the Balboa Park Puppet Guild ($20 annual fee). This organization was formed in 2001 and, for the most part, is in charge of keeping the Marie Hitchcock Theater vibrant and active. The Guide offers workshops and apprentice opportunities. Thanks to their dedication, the theater provides 2 to 3 shows per day, for 5 day a week, all year round. Shows typically change weekly (see schedule of performances here).

Kid's can get involved by joining Tico's Puppet Club ($12) where they may get a finger puppet, free shows, backstage visits, and more.

Location, Hours of Operation, Price

Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater
Balboa Park, map location 23
2130 Pan American Place
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 544-9203

Free parking available one building over: in the Aerospace Museum parking lot.

Fall and Winter:
Wed - Fri
Sat & Sun

Show Time
10 am and 11:30 am
11 am, 1 pm, and 2:30 pm
Wed - Sun
Show Time
11 am, 1 pm, and 2:30 pm

Adults: $5
Children: $3
Children under 2: free