The Great Arizona Puppet Theater cordially invites you to its mystical 40th Anniversary Gala. Come inside “The Eighth Wonder of the World” in this immersive 1940s-themed extravaganza, with unique puppetry experiences, food & drink, gallery exhibits showcasing the theater’s history, and more.
The Great Arizona Puppet Theater has become a wondrous space of magic and joy in downtown Phoenix. With the hard work and dedication of Nancy Smith, Ken Bonar, and GAPT’s staff and supporters, the theater went from an abandoned former church to the second-largest puppet theater in the United States. It remains a hidden gem still unknown to many, but to those who love it, the theater shines like a ruby: a place of passion, protection, creativity, and compassion.
Join us for this grand evening of history and enchantment.
VIP Experience 6-10 PM
Special VIPs Experience including Specialty Menu, Cocktails, Exhibit Preview with Founder and Performances
General Admission 7-10 PM
An Immersive magical 40's themed gala with delicious food stations of world cuisine, bar and cocktails plus delightful interactive puppet and specialty arts performances around every corner.
Gala is held at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater's beautifully restored Historic Landmark building in Roosevelt Row, Downtown Phoenix, Arizona
Our work includes renovating a historic building, serving young and adult audiences for over 40 years, creating and building original works, hosting national & international puppeteers in our theater and in residencies, and touring environmental educational shows. All of this passion we put forth in honoring our mission.
To advance and promote the art of puppetry
To celebrate the great state of Arizona - its culture, heritage, and ecology - through the art of puppetry
To educate children and their families
To make a positive impact on the cultural climate of Arizona
Nancy Smith & Kenneth Bonar
For over forty years, Nancy Smith, Founding Director, has been at the heart of puppeteering. She obtained her BA in Theater at Arizona State University before earning her MA at Florida State University. Having trained under puppeteers such as Phillip Huber, Paul Vincent Davis, and Frank Oz, she has been a member of many puppet spaces, including being a longtime member of the Puppeteers of America. Eventually, she founded the Great Arizona Puppet Theater with her husband in 1983. GAPT started as a touring company before taking up residency in a former church, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Nancy has brought the old building to life through its renovation to be used for puppetry. For over three decades, the theater has served the community, especially those in economically disadvantaged areas. GAPT is also the largest puppet theater in the western U.S., and the shows housed within have touched communities across the valley, state, and region. She is a writer, great songwriter, performer, artist, and community leader who has kept the art of puppetry thriving through her dedicated work.
Kenneth Bonar 1948-2020
Ken was a talented artist and skilled craftsman, a remarkable designer, sculptor, builder, and performer. After returning from two tours of Vietnam, Ken met his partner Nancy Smith and they began creating puppets and performing soon after. Together they co-founded Great Arizona Puppet Theater, which grew from a small touring company to an award-winning theater and hub. Ken was the main puppet designer and builder up until his retirement in 2017. Ken also played a major role in renovating the theater's beautiful historic building in downtown Phoenix. Over the decades, millions of children laughed with joy and wonder during Ken's live performances, and his hundreds of puppets have delighted audiences in shows throughout Arizona, the country, and internationally.
302 W Latham Street
Phoenix, AZ 85003
GALA OFFICE HOURS:
Mon - Fri: 9am - 5pm