Zan and Dan Raynor have been with Stevens Puppets since 1993. They came to Stevens Puppets with extensive theatre backgrounds, both onstage and off. Their common love of theatre began when they were in high school: Zan in Elkhart, Indiana and Dan in San Jose, California.
They both have acted and directed professionally all over the country. Unbeknownst to them, they were developing creative and unique skills that would eventually come full circle and help them while creating and performing marionette theatre. Zan does all the new carving for Stevens Puppets and restores the “Original Stevens Marionettes”. They perform together whenever possible.
They have five wonderful children: Pais, Mak, Gnoli, Caven and Leilea. Their voices can be heard in Stevens Puppets productions of “The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “Rumplestiltskin”, “Aladdin”, and “The Sleeping Beauty”!
Dan holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a major in Theatre Arts.
Zan has a multitude of degrees: a BA in Theology from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, an MTS from the University of Notre Dame with concentrations in Early Church History and Moral Theology, and a JCL in Canon Law from the Catholic University of America, as well as a CELTA and DELTA from Cambridge University. In addition to her professional theatre directing and choreographing experience, she has taught theology at the university level, Latin at the high school level, and been the principal at schools from elementary through high school. Zan currently contracts with companies around the world as a consultant for teaching English as a foreign language, providing curriculum and professional development support.
The Raynors divide their time when they’re not on tour between their homes in Florida and Indiana. They perform puppet plays ALL OVER THE WORLD!
Mr. Walls (Aka “Mr. Bob Puppet Dude”), was destined for greatness at an early age and soon set out from his home in Portage, IN on a pilgrimage to Ball State University in Muncie, IN. Soon after his triumphant arrival, all his hopes and dreams were dashed to the wind.
It was then that REALITY struck our hero and as he departed Ball State with a B. S. in Theatre, he promptly found work at Dunes Summer Theatre as a featured player/Office Manager. But as his ego expanded, his wallet didn’t.
Having nothing to “fall back on”, Bob entered the exciting world of Retail for the next 15 years. During this period of Enlightenment, Bob found the love of his life in Tiffany in 1997 and they proceeded to receive God’s blessings in the form of Kirk in 2000 and Kastel in 2010. Bob is thrilled to be working with Stevens Puppets getting back into the Entertainment industry as part of a great tradition.
Gnoli is very happy to join the Stevens Puppets team. She has literally grown up around marionettes. She is an accomplished artist, actor, singer, dancer, puppeteer, gymnast, and many other things she chose to pursue. Gnoli has apprenticed under her parents, Dan and Zan Raynor, and has learned the crafts of puppetry and theatre from the ground up.
Gnoli is a 6 time State Champion Gymnast, and currently teaches gymnastics to the next generation of talented students. She graduated from Saint Mary’s College at Notre Dame in 2017, with a double major in Theatre Performance and Studio Art with a concentration in Sculpture. She is currently a graduate student at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts specializing in wig and make up design.
Gnoli has toured many states with Stevens Puppets, including North Carolina, New York, Virginia, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Alaska. Gnoli plans to keep the Stevens Puppets tradition thriving for future generations.
Leilea Raynor began performing professionally with Stevens Puppets in Alaska in 2017 and has been seen performing with her father in California, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, New York, and Florida, as well as in videos showcasing our marionettes. Her voice talents can be heard in “The Sleeping Beauty” and our upcoming production of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. Leilea is a very accomplished digital artist/animator and writer. Her academic interests include history, marine biology, and zoology.
Prior to joining forces with the Stevens, Jane and Elton Hummel owned a very popular sandwich business in Elkhart, IN. Elton was also a professional barbershop quartet member. He was a member of The Doctors of Harmony. They won the International Championship in 1947.
Elton and Jane Hummel began with the Stevens Puppets in 1965. They were hired and professionally trained in performing marionette theatre by Martin and Margi Stevens. They toured for Stevens Puppets for almost 4 decades.
After the Stevens’ passed away in the early 1980’s, Elton and Jane assumed the responsibility of a 50 year tradition of running the most successful marionette company in North American history. And run it they did!
Stevens Puppets thrived under the leadership of Elton and Jane for the next 20 years. In 2002 the Hummels” decided to pass the torch to Zan and Dan Raynor, (their senior puppeteers). The Raynor’s moved the headquarters to Washington DC, and have started new tours in the Mid-Atlantic region as well as the tours in the midwest.
In August of 2005 the world lost a great man, friend, husband and father. Elton Hummel went to be with God. We all miss him very much.
In August of 2006 Elton and Jane Hummel were honored at the Amish Acres Arts and Crafts Festival. They performed at the festival for over 40 years. The children’s tent is now officially named the “Elton and Jane Hummel Children’s Tent”.
In April of 2011 we lost one of the kindest, funniest, most incredibly loving women I have ever met. Emily “Jane” Hummel went to be with God and to join her husband Elton Hummel in heaven. We are all going to miss her.
The Stevens Puppets were started in Middlebury, Indiana, in 1933, by Martin and Olga Stevens. They became a world famous marionette company producing adult dramas such as MacBeth, Taming of the Shrew, Joan of Arc, The Passion Play, just to name a few. They traveled worldwide during the 1930’s-1950’s. Much of their work together can be seen in museums and private collections around the world. Ultimately they parted ways in the late 1950’s.
Martin and Margi were married on Valentine’s day in 1960. Their first marionette play together was “The Sleeping Beauty”. It debuted in the fall of 1960. It would start them on a journey that would add several marionette plays in the next twenty years. Robin Hood, The King of the Golden River, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Aladdin, Rumplestiltskin, The Wizard of Oz, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Many of those shows are still touring around the world to this day.
The world lost a pair of incredible artists in the early 1980’s. Margi in 1981, and Martin in 1983. Their collective artwork lives on with the many puppet shows they created for children.