Homegrown Puppeteer Aspires to Make it Big

COOPERSBURG – Right next to the leaf drop-off on Liberty Road lives a unique young man.  His vision has brought laughter into the lives of children in two states, and he hopes one day soon he will reach many more.  Mark Keeler began his career in puppetry at a mere two and a half years of age.  “It was basic hand manipulations,” he told the Tribune, that he learned as a toddler.  His first puppet, “Flower,” was a skunk puppet that he found at a truck stop along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Made out of a sock, “Flower” was so big compared to the toddler that the puppet took up most of his arm.  But the undersized kid gained an overpowering love for puppetry that has lasted 25 years. 

Local puppeteer Mark Keeler, right, poses with his assistant Dustin Victory, and puppets "Scruffy" and "Yippee" at the Lower Milford Fall Festival Sept. 25. Photo by Judd Wilson, Southern Lehigh Tribune.

Today, Keeler’s “Yippee Show” features characters ranging from a dog – that’s “Yippee” — to a Keith Richards-like rock star named “Maynard Flames.”  A member of Faith United Church of Christ in Center Valley, Keeler loves to entertain children and teach people about puppetry in a special puppet-making workshop.  He has performed in the “Pip the Mouse” program at the Liberty Bell Museum in Allentown, and auditioned in New York City.  Currently he works part-time as assistant manager of a puppet theatre in Ohio.  According to Keeler, development is also underway for a children’s television program. 

Keeler met Dustin Victory at last year’s Christmas tree lighting in Coopersburg.  Victory, a Center Valley resident and Southern Lehigh Middle School student, has learned quickly under Keeler’s tutelage and works as assistant for “The Yippee Show.”  Keeler has placed in the Small March Category in Coopersburg’s Halloween Parade for the past seven years. 

Keeler’s “The Yippee Show” and his puppet-making workshop can be booked for birthday parties, church programs, library story times, nursing homes, day care and more.  Contact him at (610) 282-1865 or yippeeshow@earthlink.net, or visit his company website at http://home.earthlink.net/~yippeeshow/index.html.

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