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Second Entertainers Camp promises 'big open party'

Clintonville puppeteer Bob Abdou invites would-be entertainers, public for workshops, show, pie fight this weekend

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Bob Abdou wasn't planning on a sequel when he organized his Entertainers Camp last year in the community room of his wife's church in Clintonville.

It just turned out that way, the professional puppeteer and ventriloquist said last week.

"After the success of the first one, people asked me when is the next one going to be," Abdou said. "I thought this was going to be a one-time party, but I said let's do it again."

Naturally, a pie fight once again will conclude the daylong series of workshops Saturday, May 3, at Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 35 E. Stanton Ave., where the Rev. June Wilkins, Abdou's wife, has been pastor since 2011.

The cost for those interested in learning puppetry, how to be a clown or a magician, or just how to get on television is $20.

"I purposely made this affordable because it's not all about the money," Abdou said. "It's about having people gather. If people can't come, it's not because of the cost.

"I just want this to be like one big open party all day."

The workshops, featuring instruction and pointers from friends Abdou has made over the course of his own long career as an entertainer, run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Once participants in the pie fight are sufficiently cleaned up, they can attend an All-Star Show by the faculty of the Entertainers Camp at 7 p.m.

Those interested in attending only the show are asked to pay $5.

Payment, by cash or credit card, will be accepted at the door of the church.

Along with Abdou's class, Ventriloquism and Puppetry 101, camp participants will receive instruction from professional magicians, clowns, balloon artists and others, including Chris Clark of West Bloomfield, Mich., who will provide a lecture on how to get on local and national TV without having an agent. Clark, who will be the master of ceremonies for the All-Star Show, has appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show Starring Jay Leno and others.

"It's going to be a large range of variety arts," Abdou said.

Friends he has made in the field from Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Cleveland and elsewhere learned about the success of last year's camp and asked if they could serve as instructors this time around, he added. In fact, Abdou said, entertainer friends already are lining up to perform in next year's All-Star Show.

"It's not just for entertainers," he said. "This was opened to the public, too."

A gospel puppetry team from a church on the South Side even volunteered to offer pointers to novices after learning about last year's camp.

"We're going to be serving cotton candy, too," Abdou said. "How fun is that?"

For more information, call 614-329-5399.

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