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Thursday, October 22, 2015

DEANE LITTLE BEANS VENTRILOQUIST NOV. 4

Ventriloquist Katey Clees is shown with her “friends”, Scooter, Great Great Grandma Ophelia and Scatter. Katey is holding the baby, Skitters.
Katey Clees of Muncy, Pa. has been a ventriloquist for 53 years. On Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 10 a.m., she and three of her favorite puppets twins Scooter and Scatter and Great Great Grandma Ophelia will do a Kate and Friends show in the lobby at the Deane Center at 104 Main Street in Wellsboro. This Deane Little Beans program is free and open to the public.

The name of the presentation is “Let’s Go to Church.” Scooter will sing "Jesus Loves Me." That leads to a discussion about unconditional love, blessings, forgiveness and grace. At the end of the program, Clees, the puppets and audience will join in singing the song.

“I am a Christian ventriloquist,” she said.

“I fell in love with ventriloquism as a youngster. I was 10 when I acquired my first ‘non-breathing friend,’ a 19-inch Jerry Mahoney ventriloquist doll and began performing for family members.”

“I can’t remember how old I was when I became interested in ventriloquists but my mother always made sure to tell me when Señor Wences was going to be on the Ed Sullivan Show on TV.” Wences painted his fist and put a blonde wig on top of it to create the face of his famous talking puppet, Johnny. "He rested his fist on top of a stuffed body and moved his thumb and fingers so it looked like Johnny was talking,” Clees said.

Clees was blessed with the ability to mimic voices and accents. Through the years she has practiced her skills as her collection of ventriloquist dolls has grown. Today, she has over 40 of them, including a group she calls the DeBrain family.

In addition to the twins and Great Great Grandma Ophelia, the DeBrain family also includes Agatha, Theodore and baby Skitters. “I write my own material,” Clees said. “It takes me about a year to work out all of the bugs before I can present a show like ‘Let’s Go To Church’ in public.

For her first 38 years as a ventriloquist, Clees performed only for family and friends. About 15 years ago, she attended a festival of Christian puppetry and ventriloquism in Indiana. “A friend of mine pushed me to perform with Scooter in front of about 30 people at the festival. I did. Then they gave me a written critique. It took me six months before I could bring myself to look at it. When I did I was amazed. All of their comments were positive. They said my elocution was good and my lips didn’t move. Right after that, I started doing Kate and Friends shows at churches and nursing homes. I have traveled to 13 counties in central and northeastern Pennsylvania and into New York State.” Her programs have been well received.

For more information about this Deane Little Beans program, call 570-724-6220.

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