A Steamboat holiday tradition

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"The Nutcracker" is a holiday tradition nationwide, and a visit from puppeteer Jim Gamble is fast becoming a local holiday tradition.

This year, the two shall meet.

¤ Puppeteer Jim Gamble performs "The Nutcracker"

¤ 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. Tuesday

¤ Sheraton Steamboat Resort Grand Ballroom

¤ $10 for adults; $1 for children younger than 18

¤ 879-5056

Gamble will return to Steamboat Springs with his puppet production of "The Nutcracker."

Gamble has been doing the show for 20 years across the United States and around the world. He recently performed it in Serbia and took the Grand Prize at the puppet festival there.

Gamble's version of "The Nutcracker" is narrated by Godfather Drosselmeier, a life-size puppet made of latex that looks like a real person.

Gamble is good at keeping children involved in the performance. Most of the puppets are marionettes except for the Rat King and the Nutcracker, which are rod puppets.

After leaving Steamboat, Gamble will hit the road for 180 performances worldwide in 2006.

He is scheduled to perform in Japan, Russia, Poland, Armenia and Italy, and his puppet company recently began a regular performance at Disneyland.

"Puppets are a universal language," Gamble said.

Puppet popularity is growing nationally and internationally, as shown by puppet festivals held everywhere, including Pakistan and Japan.

Puppetry is combination of all the arts -- theater, sculpture, painting -- and that's why Gamble got interested and stayed interested. His passion for the art has earned him an international reputation.

This will be Gamble's fourth time on stage in Steamboat.

For children, the show is entertaining, but for adults, the intricacies of the puppets -- their structure and manipulation --olds equal fascination.

Each puppet takes between 75 and 100 hours to create by hand in the Gamble studios.

Gamble has been interested in puppetry since he was 10, but he chose the life of a pilot instead. He spent five years in the U.S. Air Force and 15 years as a commercial pilot for Continental Airlines. When Continental declared bankruptcy in 1983, Gamble opted for early retirement, started making puppets and never looked back.

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