Puppet shows, comedy, and music for everyone.

Modern Times Theater delights crowds with a fresh take on the entertainment styles of the past, including novelty music, handmade puppetry, and classic comedy. Husband and wife performers Justin Lander and Rose Friedman have been adapting and updating Punch and Judy shows, and performing original variety acts with Vermont Vaudeville for over a decade. They strive to present quality entertainment that the whole family can enjoy.

Dear Friends and Fans,

Way back in March, we were in the midst of our Saturday Storefront Puppet Show Series, in an empty storefront in downtown St. Johnsbury. It was a heartbreak to cancel this much-anticipated, sold-out collaboration with Catamount Arts, and to empty out the performance space we had created, after just one weekend of shows. 
Stuck at home, we began the first of many “pivots”, and spent the spring making maple syrup and inventing new ways to connect to our audience, including:

  • Mailing out dozens of the “Puppet Show Action Pack”, a puppet-making kit for our financial supporters.
  • Producing the first-ever “Earshot Festival”, a non-digital decentralized music festival for porch players and neighborhood listening.
  • Delivering “Truckload of Tunes” mini-concerts and variety shows in driveways and front yards, with our Vermont Vaudeville collaborators.
  • Creating online content, and bringing Punch and Judy into the virtual world.

As the weather warmed and COVID cases stayed low in Vermont . . .

  • We converted an old camper trailer into a mobile puppet stage, and spent the short Vermont summer pulling the trailer behind the minivan for a full season of outdoor, socially-distanced shows on town greens, library yards, and in family driveways.
  • We created new work for Vermont Vaudeville‘s first ever outdoor weekend of shows.
  • We organized the first annual “Hafta-Have-a-Halloween Festival” in the neighboring town of Greensboro. This collaborative outdoor, socially-distanced celebration featured our brand new live-action fortune telling booth (pandemic-safe theater requires new ideas of theater!)

Now, with cases rising, we are back home and the potatoes are in the root cellar. Our current work includes:

  • More online shows for private parties, schools, and community groups (scroll down to see the preview).
  • Community projects here in East Hardwick, such as a monthly free supper, which will eventually include performances when we can safely gather in the old Grange Hall!
  • Featured performances in First Night North, a virtual New Year’s Eve celebration with Catamount Arts.

If you want to support our community-building, theater-making, home-made projects:

Thank you! -Rose & Justin


As the cold sets in, and outdoor public gatherings in New England come to a close, we are moving our performing onto the internet.  For the first time ever, we are offering performances at the safest of social distances.  “The Perils of Mr. Punch is now available for schools, libraries, and private events, via your computer screen.