a puppeteer holding up a stuffed wiener dog and a hoop for it to jump through

What If Puppets (formerly Paul Mesner Puppets)
'Cirque du Wiener Dog'

10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday, December 7, 2022 - December 10, 2022 | Polsky Theatre

School shows start at $5.
Evening/weekend shows start at $9.

Individual Tickets

Grades K-2


Cirque du Wiener Dog is a variety show featuring a cast of wacky wiener dog performers.


Come one, come all to the most WIENERFUL show on earth! Join a cast of daring dachshunds as they attempt to put on a circus variety show, with amazing acrobatics, trapeze swinging and a rousing tightrope finale! The show, however, is constantly interrupted by Li’l Dumpling, the Littlest Dachshund in the World, who desperately wants to get in on each act. Will Li’l Dumpling get to be the HOT DOG, or will everything turn out for the WURST? Find out in Cirque du Wiener Dog! You never SAUSAGE a ridiculous show!

Inspired by traditional trick marionette variety acts, this Mike Horner Production features glove puppet, marionette and rod puppet dachshunds performing classic circus routines to a soundtrack of raucous polka tunes.

Over the past three decades, What If Puppets has captivated nearly 2 million people through its productions and educational programming. Audiences delight in the craftsmanship of the puppets, which range from glove puppets to marionettes to innovative shadow and object-based puppetry. MPT uses humor and heart to present stories that connect to the complex social-emotional experiences of young audiences.

They hold the distinction of receiving three Union Internationale de la Marionette (UNIMA-USA) Citations of Excellence. The UNIMA-USA award was created by Jim Henson to promote high quality puppetry in the U.S. and is considered the “Academy Award” of puppetry.

In 2020, as the arts world was rocked by closures due to COVID-19, the leadership seized the opportunity to research and develop a strategic vision. A community-needs assessment was conducted, revealing the need for learning-through-play and arts integration strategies to support the social-emotional development of children ages 0-8. There was also a clear call for innovative ways to access professional arts as a form of family engagement, particularly for the very young.

In response to those findings, the board revised the mission statement in 2021: “To inspire play and cultivate connections through puppetry.” The staff restructured programs to achieve the company’s new vision: “A Kansas City community that celebrates the arts as essential for early childhood development through a company that is nationally recognized as a leader in puppetry and arts integration.”

Energized by the company’s vision, they now move forward to fulfill their mission as “What If Puppets,” inviting audiences to play with them and discover how puppetry and the arts contribute to community.