Dr. Tottlebottom was birthed after the group moved into the Olde Main space. "We decided we needed someone to be in a -- is this the nicest word for it? -- kid-wrangling position."
Theatergoers are advised to show up a half-hour before showtime as there are two pre-show puppet appearances as well as Dr. Tottlebottom. Levesque also appears as a costumed character and there's a song and dance with the kids "so we get their jitters out," she said.
Then, come shows like a current one in which the Creek Critters attempt to retell the classic tale of "The Three Pigs."
Audience response has been gratifying, Barton said. "It is absolutely amazing, from children that are 18 months to 82-years-old. Well, 88. My grandmother's 88 and she's been three times. I have been absolutely floored at the response."
The Junction opened Nov. 27, 2010 "and I just booked our 26th birthday party. I just booked our seventh field trip," she said.
The Junction also recently began partnering with Capitol Nannies ies out of Teays Valley, run by Dawn Hong.
"She does child care at large events -- well, when there's a black tie going on, what do you do with your kids? You bring them and Capitol Nannies takes care of them. And we will be her premiere entertainment," Barton said.
Show times are 11 a.m. and 1 p. m Wednesdays and 1 and 3 p.m. Saturdays. "We're praying things keep going as well as they are because our goal is to have the theater open six days a week," she said.
Shows run 45 minutes along with the half-hour pre-show. Admission is $5 for both adults and children, free to children 1 and younger.
"So, you're looking at an hour and 15 minutes of entertainment for five bucks," Barton said. "I mean, how can you go wrong with that?"
Both Lilly and Barton remember what Olde Main used to be like as kids. "When I was young growing up here, this was the Plaza and they had the little kid's area with the slide," Lilly said.
"And the toy store was here," added Barton.
"I just always loved this area," Lilly said.
He spoke with Mayor Dick Calloway and the people running the Alban. "They have such huge hopes for the area to be an arts community. That excited me. Why not be as close to that as possible with what we're doing?"
They've been able to dream a bit with lots of help, such as Gleason, who also works at the Alban, taking on a second job as a puppeteer. "If we have been able to dream it imagination-wise, then we have put it into play," Barton said.
"So, hey, Jim Henson, here we come!" she added, laughing. "We hope!"
For more on Sassafrass Junction, call 304-395-5373 or visit www.sassafrassjunction.com.
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at doug...@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.