Founder & Puppeteer
Michael Patrei was raised by a barrel of squirrel monkeys in the Ilion Gorge and is the founder of The Guild of Thespian Puppets. He designs and creates all of The Guild’s original puppets. Besides being a puppet maker, Michael is also a puppeteer, a writer of puppet scripts, and a filmmaker of puppet movies and videos.
Michael is a professional independent filmmaker who lives in Central New York and has become deeply involved in his community while remaining connected to the national and global community.
Michael’s film, “BALLOU: a documentary film” is a 90-minute feature length documentary about the struggles and triumphs of an inner city high school marching band from Washington, DC and features interviews with Colin Powell and Jesse Jackson. BALLOU has received national attention with its television premiere on the BET Network, a screening at the White House for First Lady Laura Bush, and featured stories on Good Morning America, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and ABC World News Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post called it a “lively and affecting documentary.”
Michael has completed the short films “The Guild of Thespian Puppets Save Christmas” and “Amiko Blue and the Treasure of Atlantis.” He has also directed a feature length film, “Falling Frames” along with several short documentary films for Cinelan’s 3-Minute Stories series: “Haunted Beardslee Castle,” “Super Fertile Derby Girl,” “The Brass Ring,” and “DEMON Biker Chihuahua,” which can all be seen on Hulu.com. www.IlionFilmCompany.com
Michael was one of the founders of the UNSPOKEN Human Rights Film Festival in Utica, NY and served as festival director for 4 years. He also served on the Board of Directors for the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees. In his spare time Michael is the lead singer of the Tom Waits tribute band The Swordfish Trombones. He also really really really really likes donuts and peanut butter cups!
Michael is the puppeteer for Hamlet the Monkey, Edgar the Raven, Sal the Mule, Bradbury the Tiger, Merl the Honey Badger, Lil’ Dickens the Cat, and Sir Stanley Beaglesworth.
Raised by a pack of swamp gators in the marshes around Sandy Pond, NY, Garrett Ingraham as a young boy would spend most of his time alone. He entertained himself by drawing and writing his own comic books. He also developed a fondness for creating silly voices in his head, which then would eventually come out his mouth. Finally after many years of moderate success toiling as a graphic artist and a would-be coffeehouse mogul, Mr. Ingraham now has a somewhat socially acceptable means of utilizing his voice characterizations by way of puppetry and was invited to join The Guild of Thespian Puppets to voice one of the founding personalities, Clemens The Alligator. Mr. Ingraham tends to lean towards chaos-driven characters, and generally is quite loud and bombastic, contrasting, well…not at all with his usual wonky and unpredictable demeanor. He gives Clemens a loveable, irascible, somewhat befuddled nature coupled with a deep-seated fondness for napping. He gives Choopa a lust for food, Ethel Mermaid a lust for, uh, lust, and Sigmund Fraud access to a veritable smorgasbord of insanities to improperly analyze.
Mr. Ingraham currently resides above The Tramontane Café in Utica, NY with Ms. Robin Raabe, his companion since 1993.
Garrett is the puppeteer for Clemens the Alligator, Choopa the Chupacabra, Ethel Mermaid, Sigmund Fraud the Duck, Livingston the Elephant, and Shackleton the Yeti.
As a child Doug loved to play with puppets. As he got older he dabbled in video games and bicycle riding. He bought a bike several years back, and recently started on video games. Now he does puppets.
As Doug continues to regress, it is safe to say diapers are in his future.
Doug has worked as a professional actor portraying the Lord Mayor at the Sterling Renaissance Festival since 2009.
Doug is the puppeteer for Dickens the Cat, Flappy, Walter the Lochness Monster, Shakesbear, Madame JD Salinger the Jersey Devil, Ishmael the Sailor, Fraudrick the Blue Footed Booby, and Maury Arty the Villain.
He eventually was excommunicated from what he had come to know as his family when they realized he would truly never have the desire to hunt as one of them.
Instead, Justin dreamed of a different life, one involving felt and funny voices. Finally, in his mid twenties, he has achieved his life’s goal.
Justin is the puppeteer for Barry Plumpit, Bruce the Bunyip, Nancy the Shark, Mike Mothminski the Mothman, Galileo the Gremlin, and Irving the Pumpkin.
She is an illustrator and a graphic and textile designer.
She is also a singing-songwriting-painter, blogger, wannabe gardener, aspiring aquarist and an amateur entomologist.
A good idea-er and a kite flying enthusiast. Most especially, a lover of all things fluffy.
Alex is the puppeteer for Scout, Harper the Dove, Zelda the Zebracorn, and Medusa.
Nicholas Patrei was raised by a fluffle of jackalopes in the woods of Russell Park in Ilion, NY and as a result he is a true Renaissance man. Besides being a puppeteer for The Guild of Thespian Puppets, Nick is a painter, a craftsman, an artist, a scientist, a musician, a writer, and most of all he is a family man. As the science teacher for the House of the Good Shepherd in Utica, NY, Nick embodies their mission statement by providing “care that changes children’s lives.” He truly cares about his job and the children that the House of the Good Shepherd serves. Through his own excitement and enthusiasm for science he is able to convey to these children the wonder of the world we live in.
Nick has painted several portraits of the puppets from The Guild of Thespian Puppets including Edgar the Raven and Clemens the Alligator. He is also the brother of Michael Patrei, the founder of the Guild.
Nick is the puppeteer for Biggles the Cardinal, Plato the Jackalope, Gregory Peck the Woodpecker, Cervantes the Bull, and Krampus.
Melissa Lopez partakes in various hobbies, which include watching anime, playing video games, drinking coffee, and crafting.
She dabbles with origami, portrait sketching, knitting, and anything else that grabs her attention – most recently creating props and backdrops for The Guild of Thespian Puppets.
These hobbies come in handy in her work with children at the Utica Public Library.
Brian is a versatile singer-songwriter, born in Westmoreland, NY.
Brian has a degree in Graphic Illustration and a passion for anything music related.
He has played many roles in many musical projects from being a solo act, to playing bass guitar in pit bands for musicals.
In 2013 he began recording a wide variety of projects in his Utica-based studio “The Groovy Yeti,” where he continues to further expand his craft.
Roger was born in Rochester, NY in 1939. A writer, photographer, musician/songwriter, and visual artist, he attended Monroe Community College, Rochester, studied painting at The Art Student’s League, New York, and the San Francisco Art Institute. He worked for thirty years as a photojournalist. His photographs have appeared in The New York Times; TIME Magazine; Newsweek; RollingStone Magazine and many more publications. His book of poems, “did music die,” was published by Tiger’s Eye Press, Denver CO, in 2014. His poems have appeared in a dozen of poetry journals. In 2011 he recorded his first CD, “Blues,” followed by “Rolling Away” (2012).
Roger passed away last year and is deeply missed.
There have been many contributors who have offered their talents to The Guild of Thespian Puppets.
Mike Cecconi – writer
Mike Cecconi is a writer/performer who grew up, and currently resides, in Little Falls, NY. He has worked and lived in many places doing many things but he always comes back to writing and he usually comes back home. You may know him as a singer of novelty songs, an emcee, an extra in Clerks 2, a cartoonist, for e-books on Amazon or as that tall guy who reads loudly. Along with contributions to The Guild as a writer and actor, his recent work includes a poetry collection through the Utica Poets Society entitled “This Is My Inside Voice.” Mike is a proud alum of Newhouse at Syracuse University though he’s astonished he still owes them money. Have words, will travel. No semi-colons, no Oxford Commas, all of the ellipses.
During his time with The Guild, Greg was the puppeteer for Darwin the Squirrel and others.