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About

ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY (stacked on top of each other):

                                                            [Helen (left), the youngest of our clan, leads her friends in puppeteering on our stoop in Brooklyn]

                                                            [Helen (left), the youngest of our clan, leads her friends in puppeteering on our stoop in Brooklyn]

About the Puppettes


Hello!   We are so thrilled to be able to entertain you and your families.  

We pinch ourselves sometimes-  We get paid for this?! :-)

Every experience is an adventure for us.  It seems that the people who find us 
and our company are the most special people out there whose primary goal is 
to make their kids happy and fulfilled.  And that makes us happy and fulfilled, too.   
 

Here on this site we provide:


-Options and detailed information on the interactive musical puppet shows that we bring to any given event (festivals, schools, birthday parties,  etc.)

-Updates on our public performances (some of them are free!)

-The latest news on Island Girls the Musical

-Various footage from past performances

-Information on our animation station

-Our super fun music videos and photos!


The joy that I witnessed you bring to the little slice of heaven I'm lucky enough to check into everyday at Books of Wonder, that atmosphere you created, it defines the good times that you want to stay with you forever...As I said on that day, there was never more energy and happiness on the amazing kids' faces as there were while you were orchestrating them...Those most positive and genuine emotions truly make this world a better place as well as the lives that are lucky enough to have you shared with them...

~Joel Grayson, Books of Wonder Associate, Manhattan


 

Performance at Barnes and Noble in TriBeCa

performance at barnes and noble

Over the past several years, Penny and the Puppettes has performed at the Mercer County Italian American Festival (MCIAFA), held in West Windsor, New Jersey over the past 14 years. The Festival is considered to be the 5th largest festival in the United States attracting approximately 100,000 visitors over a three day weekend...Penny and the Puppettes are like family to the MCIAFA, extremely talented and caring for the children that they entertain...  


~Carl Carabelli and Ann Lennon, Entertainer Committee Co-Chairs.


 

Performance at Kids Food Festival in Bryant Park

performance at Kids Food Festival in Bryant Park

Penny and the Puppettes are a kid favorite! They performed at a party at Citibabes recently and blew the parents and children away- the birthday girl couldn't stop talking about Penny and her friends for days!

~Anne Lischwe, Birthday/Events Coordinator at CITIBABES, Manhattan


 


 

Personal Bios:


Photo Credit: Peter Hellberg

Merissa "Sassa" Morin, co-creator 

Co-creator of Penny and the Puppettes® and graduate of New York University's Musical Theater program at Tisch School of the Arts (CAP21).  Her adult acting career includes: guest starring as a possible murderer (did she do it?) on Law & Order: SVU, co-starring as an obnoxious yet lovable aspiring actress in the film One Night with Melissa Leo, co-starring as a fellow rehab patient opposite Robert Iler on The Sopranos, the assistant to Aasif Mandvi in Today's Special, as well as starring in the independent shorts Pretty, The Graveyard Shift, Scheherazade, and Tackle Girl.  Merissa is currently developing a web series to star in (this one's for the parents and adults out there who enjoy Christopher Guest movies) that is loosely based off of the antics and skill-set that only one who operates a family owned children's company involving puppets could possibly understand.  She also writes music on the guitar, piano, and ukulele and gigs out in Manhattan music venues.  She is the third generation in a family of children's entertainers (see more below about her grandfather Bob Munstedt and mother Jane Stratten), and is thrilled to be continuing in the family tradition. 

Her vocals are featured on Jane's album, Uh Oh, There's Something Underneath My Bed, in the songs "Stand" and "Get that Big Beak Outta My Face!" The company album Penny and the Puppettes® will be released in 2015!

"Growing up, there was always music. We loved going to mom's shows and watching the audience from backstage, and going into the studio with her to record background vocals for an album. It really shaped what I wanted to do with my life."

 


Photo Credit: Mitya Ku

Jane "Nini" Munstedt, co-creator

Jane is not only creator of Penny and the Puppettes®, but also Merissa and Chloe's mom!  Having been a legend for over a decade in South Florida as an entertainer and educator, Jane's move to New York after popular demand allowed the expansion of her one-woman show, "Jane Stratten's Musical Puppets," to become the company that is Penny and the Puppettes!  Jane is a graduate of Syracuse University and an accomplished musician who has performed as a cabaret singer and band leader. Her bands performed in New England and South Florida and opened for Richie Havens and the Pointer Sisters. Strongly influenced by her father, Jane picked up where he left off with writing songs and musicals for children. 

In 2004, Jane took the children's music world by storm with her critically acclaimed album, Uh Oh, There's Something Underneath My Bed. ** She just finished recording tracks for the company album Penny and the Puppettes®.  Jane is currently completely immersed in the development of our first full length musical Island Girls (to hit the stage in 2015).  To learn more about Jane and hear samples of her songs, visit janestratten.com. Her CD is also available on iTunes, Rhapsody, and Napster.
** CD available in hundreds of libraries nationwide.

 


hoto Credit: dimnikolov

Chloe "Zenni" Morin

Chloe is Merissa's younger sister and Rosie's (aka Penny) guardian. She studied at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study to pursue her love of music, acting, and early child development. She taught Merissa how to play the guitar and the djembe drum, and continues to write music with Merissa and the gang! Her lead vocals can be found on Jane's album Uh Oh There's Something Underneath My Bed in the song "Because I'm Small." 

"What's more fun than singing, dancing, jamming-out, and laughing your head off?!"


Rosie "Penny" Morin

Penny is our dear and sweet friend who has a very exciting journey of how she arrived in Brooklyn.  

"Penny" is modeled after the real life hound dog Rosie who was a rescue street dog in Tennessee before becoming the newest member of our family!  Rosie loves her new life that she shares with Chloe in Brooklyn!


Mr. Bob with his sidekick, Alex Smallwood

Mr. Bob with his sidekick, Alex Smallwood

It all started with Bob Munstedt 

Bob was Merissa and Chloe's grandfather, Jane's dad, and the original children's entertainer in the family. He was a musician, comedian, and puppeteer who performed in the 1940s -1970s as "Mr. Bob," and appeared on Boston area television shows such as Big Brother Bob Emory, Major Mudd, and The Rex Trailer Show. Bob started and directed the renowned Boston boy's (and later girl's) band, The Bunker Hillbillies, which flourished over the span of three decades. Bob taught the kids how to play a variety of instruments (such as the banjo, washboard, guitar, and kazoo), and gave them the courage to perform at countless events and television broadcasts, including twice at the White House. 


Our Friends and Fellow Performers:


Nikita "Benny" Burdein

Nikita Burdein is also a graduate of New York University's Film program at Tisch School of the Arts. Nikita, Merissa, and James (see below) all met while at school, and started their collaboration from there. Nikita has previously worked at the CBBC (Children's British Broadcasting Corporation) & wrote for the children's show. "XChange" (1998-2006), a live studio kids show that encouraged the youth of England to get out and get active. Nikita directs, writes, edits, and co-stars in Penny and the Puppettes® videos and episodes, including one of our favorites, the "Count to 10! Freeze Dance".  He also is on several improv teams around NYC, including musical improv at Magnet Theater.  He is currently working on the pilot episode of Penny and the Puppettes®

"For many kids, Penny and the Puppettes is their first exposure to live theater, and that's so exciting for me. They get the chance not only to see the puppets, but to engage with them, to learn how a puppet works. It's hands on. It's minds-on." 


James "Lenny" Larosa

James LaRosa also graduated from New York University's Musical Theater program at Tisch School of the Arts, where he studied in class with Merissa and quickly became close friends. His adult acting career includes appearing in HMS Pinafore at New York's City Center and performing at Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, The Metropolitan Room and Rose's Turn. His credits include; Off Broadway: Dial 'N' for Negress (Clurman Theatre), Sleeping Beauty & the Beast (York Theatre). Select Regional: Altar Boyz (FST), The Scarlet Pimpernel (Barter), Gypsy (Arkansas Rep), West Side Story (Allenberry), Next to Normal, and Working (Di Capo). Film / Television: The Fugitive Chronicles, Drama Queenz : The Series and Honor

"I love looking out and finding the parents enjoying themselves as much as the kids."