Gwen Tolentino
"Puppets are powerful, yet magical.  
They are very effective educational tools,
proving that we retain, that which is
presented in a fun, memorable way.
It is so rewarding to have the chance to
leave a lasting impact on a school, or to
perhaps create an early interest in a child’s
life for learning a foreign language.  
Though, I must say, for me, the most
captivating part about working with
puppets is creating the “magic”- breathing
life into the characters- allowing children,
young and old to believe that these objects
constructed of foam and fur are real."

-Gwen Tolentino
A 1997 honors graduate of Bethany College in
West Virginia, Gwen attained a B.A in Spanish and a
minor in Communication...Ha!  That's all true and
dandy, but this is not going to be one of
kind of
biographical sketches!

Folks often ask Gwen how she got started in this biz, or why in
the world she decided to start a company like Pittsburgh Puppet
Works.  Her answer is true and very simply stated,"I come from
one of those
looney families! " Her Grandpa performed as
"The Red Bebe", a clown/balloon artist, her Dad- a ventriloquist
and kid- show host, while her Mom,  a puppeteer/ puppet
builder, of course!  Each year, a one- week family vacation was
spent at the International Ventriloquist Convention in Ft. Mitchell,
KY!  From an early age, Gwen attended workshops on puppet
manipulation, character voices and comedy writing.  Working
with puppets was always something she had a passion for, it
just took her a while to take the leap
and try to do it for a living.

Here’s why Gwen took the leap:  In 2004, she read a book
called “Who Moved My Cheese”.  The story basically
encourages readers to accept new challenges and states that
individuals are solely to blame for anything lacking in their own
lives.  Something just clicked and, almost instantaneously,
Gwen decided to pursue performing, full-time.  
Two weeks later, she auditioned with
Walt Disney Entertainment and promptly relocated to Orlando,
FL where she performed in the
4 theme parks.

While there, Gwen attended puppetry workshops and auditions
and quickly realized that at a mere 5’2",  she was simply
too short in stature to attain the prime puppetry roles!  Then,
Gwen got an idea.  Why not move back to Pittsburgh, create a
puppet production company and build the theaters to
her height!  Pittsburgh Puppet Works was born.  
Gwen moved back to "The 'Burgh" from Orlando in October of
2004, and two months later, she performed PPW's very first
show.  The company has grown quickly and exponentially since
that first performance.  When asked the reason for this growth,
the following, is Gwen's reply:

I think what makes our operation successful and unique is the
fact that there is not just one brain behind the creation of the
shows.  All of the puppeteers come from diverse areas of
expertise and generously contribute their talents, skills, silliness
and an occasional character voice!  We are fortunate to not
only have such resources readily available, but to have the
opportunity to develop such a great camaraderie with the
entertainers in our company.   We have just as much fun
working with the clients during the event planning process- since
PPW is owned and operated by entertainers we have the
unique perspective of knowing what makes an event really work
so we customize
each and every experience to make it as smooth and as
magical as possible."
Pittsburgh Puppet Works