Category: Hand to God

Meet America’s Favorite Satanic Sock Puppet

November 11th, 2016

The New York Times | by Diep Tran
Nov. 9, 2016

”He starts out nice and everything — happy face on him, button eyes, little eyebrows.” But as the play progresses and Tyrone becomes more unhinged, his eyebrows grow bushier, and he gets sideburns and a sparse beard. “It reminds me of kids going through puberty. They don’t understand what’s happening, and they’re mad.”

<Read the full article at The New York Times>

DRAMATURGY: Puppet Ministry in “Hand to God”

October 14th, 2016

By Dani Joseph, Literary Intern

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”
— Ecclesiastes 9:10 (motto of Kingdom Kidz, a puppet ministry team)

In Robert Askin’s Hand To God, Margery hopes that her puppet ministry, the “Christcateers” will share God’s teachings with the teens in her ministry in a new, exciting way. This hope is universal among puppet ministries all across the country.


Christian puppet ministry has surged into a new golden age. Initially inspired by The Muppets and Sesame Street in the 1950s, the 1990s saw a resurgence of Puppet Theater in American’s churches. Puppet ministries are composed of the younger members of congregations who put an entertaining spin on scripture by performing skits for any number of Christian denominations. An entire industry has sprung up around the demand for all types of Biblical puppets. There are simple hand puppets that can be made out of socks and other accessible materials. Margery’s team, as well as other real-life ministries, use Sesame Street-style hand and rod puppets, like the one pictured. Specialized puppets, such as black-light puppets or other custom ordered designs, can cost upward of $200!

Whether puppet ministries are Lutheran, Congregationalist, Baptist, or another Christian denomination, they all unite in competitions. There are dozens of festivals across the country, the most popular of which is the I-Fest, or Creative Ministries’ (the leading manufacturer of Christian puppets) International Festival of Christian Puppetry. Ministry teams compete in song competitions or skit competitions against other teams, winning gold, silver, or bronze depending on the strength of their act. There are even “People’s Choice” awards for teams who have an outstanding act. If competitions aren’t a team’s speed, there are also many conferences and training boot camps available, including Creative Ministry’s festival camps which draw hundreds of people from several states. The hope being that teams can return to their communities and utilize their training to spread Christian teachings through puppetry. Puppet culture is alive and thriving as a way to educate and entertain congregations across the country.


PRESS RELEASE: City Theatre Announces Extension of Hit Comedy

October 11th, 2016

City Theatre Announces Extension of Hit Comedy

By Robert Askins

Now Running Through
OCTOBER 22, 2016

“Hand to God could send you straight to Hell, but you’ll be laughing the whole way down.”
Pittsburgh City Paper

“Hand to God is like sex, you know? It doesn’t last as long as you wish it would, but it’s great while it does.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“I have to confess, I took a little extra time when I put on my sock this morning… I had to work out a few of my own inner puppet issues with “Socky.”
Audience member I. P., via email

Pittsburgh, PA (October 11, 2016) – With sold-out performances through the planned closing date of October 16, City Theatre is thrilled to announce an extension of the wildly popular Broadway comedy, Hand to God by Robert Askins. Directed by Artistic Director Tracy Brigden, Hand to God features a cast of five local and national performers and nine wayward puppets.

The added performances are Wednesday, October 19 at 7:00 p.m., and Thursday, October 20, Friday, October 21, and Saturday October 22, all at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.

In a church basement in a little town in Texas, something evil is afoot. Or, well — at hand. The youth group has a monster in its ranks: a rogue puppet named Tyrone. He’s hijacked the hand of timid teen Jason and there’s nothing his classmates, his mother, or the pastor can do to exorcise this foul-mouthed demon. Hand to God is a thrill ride of a comedy about good and evil, sex and sin, faith, and the filthy mind of one twisted sock puppet. It is the Pittsburgh premiere of the uproarious Tony Award® Nominated Broadway hit The New York Times called “Flat out hilarious.”

Hand to God is directed by Tracy Brigden. Performing the role of Jason/Tyrone is Nick LaMedica in his City Theatre debut. The cast includes Pittsburgh favorites Maggie Carr as Jessica/Jolene, Michael Greer as Timmy, Tim McGeever as Pastor Greg, and Lisa Velten Smith as Margery. The production team includes Tony Ferrieri (scenic designer), Tracy Christiansen (costume designer), Andrew David Ostrowski (lighting designer), Elizabeth Atkinson (sound designer), Stephanie Shaw (puppet designer), Nancy McNulty McGeever (dialect coach), and Diego Villada (fight choreography). Casting is by Caparelliotis Casting/Lauren Port.

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE: September 24 – October 22, 2016
For a complete listing of show times, please visit or call 412-431-2489.

Felt Up!
A Puppet-making Workshop and Brunch
Saturday, October 15 at 11:30 a.m.
Join City Theatre and the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse at City Theatre’s home in the South Side to make your very own Tyrone!
Enjoy a complimentary Bloody Mary or Mimosa, grab some snacks, and make a one-of-a-kind hand puppet using recycled and repurposed materials from the PCCR. There are only 20 spaces available for the puppet-making workshop and it includes a ticket to the 1:00 p.m. performance of Hand to God.
Tickets are $50.

Open Captioning and Audio Description Sunday, Oct. 16 at 2:00 p.m.

City Theatre, 1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (South Side)
Patron parking is available in the lot across from the City Theatre entrance for $8.

412.431.CITY (2489) or

Single tickets start at $37.50.
Subscription packages are still available and start at $99.

Audiences under 30 may reserve $15 tickets in advance for all performances except Fridays at 8:00 p.m. and Saturdays at 5:30 p.m.; on Fridays and Saturdays, rush tickets are available two hours prior to show time and based on availability. Seniors age 62 and older may purchase $22 rush tickets at the Box Office beginning two hours before show time, based on availability. Groups of 10 or more are eligible for discounts – contact Joel Ambrose at 412.431.4400 x286.

City Theatre is now in its 42nd season. Located in the historic South Side, City Theatre is Pittsburgh’s home for bold new plays, commissioning and producing work by playwrights including Daniel Beaty, Jessica Dickey, Christopher Durang, Michael Hollinger, Willy Holtzman, Tarell Alvin McCraney, and Madeleine George. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Tracy Brigden, Managing Director James McNeel, and the Board of Directors, City Theatre’s mission is to provide an artistic home for the development and production of contemporary plays of substance and ideas that engage and challenge a diverse audience.


Theatre Review: ‘Hand to God’ at the City Theatre

October 7th, 2016

PA Theatre Guide | By Will Ashton
Oct. 6, 2016

Its astounding electricity and frenetic energy, brought with such care and investment by director Tracy Brigden, is a marvelous thing to behold, especially in watching these talented performers and behind-the-curtain artists bring this warped, feverish display of indecency and moral bankruptcy with such maddeningly wonderful devotion and faith. It’s a beautifully ludicrous display, with almost all Ten Commandments broken before the cast takes their final bow.
<Read the full article at PA Theatre Guide>

BWW Review: HAND TO GOD at City Theatre is Wickedly Funny and Surprisingly Human

October 6th, 2016

Broadway World | By Mike Mekus
Oct. 5, 2016

HAND TO GOD at City Theatre is a joy to revisit and incredibly easy to talk about because, to be quite frank, it was an absolutely delightful theatrical experience…

Tracy Brigden did a solid job directing an immaculate production. She had supremely talented performers to work with, and it showed.
<Read the full article at Broadway World>

REVIEW: Hand to God at City Theatre

October 5th, 2016

Pittsburgh City Paper | By Ted Hoover
Oct. 5, 2016

Tracy Brigden directs with the same pedal-to-the-metal mentality as Askins’ writing. The story’s events could seem a bit silly, but Brigden’s momentum, and expert hand at comedy, never provides an opportunity to stop and think — she straps us in for the ride and sends us hurtling down the track…

Seeing Hand to God could send you straight to Hell, but you’ll be laughing the whole way down.
<Read the full article at Pittsburgh City Paper>

Stage review: Praises for ‘Hand to God’

October 5th, 2016

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | By Christopher Rawson
Oct. 5, 2015

Yes, “Hand to God” is just as funny as you’ve heard, and if you haven’t heard, you must live too far away from the South Side to hear the gales of laughter. But “gales” isn’t strong enough — make it tornadoes.

Kudos to director Brigden… Kudos also to Tony Ferrieri for a set much more sophisticated than the drab church basement it first seems to be.
<Read the full article at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette>

REVIEW: “Hand to God” at City Theatre

October 4th, 2016

The Pittsburgh Tatler | By Wendy Arons
Oct. 3, 2016

Nick LaMedica is a magician with the hand puppet, and the rapid-fire comedic interplay between Jason and Tyrone is sheer genius, not only on the level of dialogue, but also as physical comedy

<Read The full article at the Pittsburgh Tattler>

Honestly Felt – a review of “Hand to God”

October 3rd, 2016

‘Burgh Vivant | by Brian Edward
Oct. 3, 2016

Brava to director Tracy Brigden to play the comedy for the drama and not just for the laughs. The emotions in the show are honestly felt (pun always intended)…

Word of warning: don’t take your grandma unless she swears like a longshoreman.
<Read the full article at ‘Burgh Vivant>

REVIEW: Hand to God

October 3rd, 2016

PGH in the Round | by Yvonne Hudson
Oct. 3, 2016

The whole cast is just terrific under Tracy Brigden’s keen direction, relentlessly playing of each character’s good and evil sides. They captivate through the most intimate moments to broadest physical comedy, including well-executed fight movement by Diego Villada.
<Read the full review at PGH in the Round>