DENHAM SPRINGS -- The line outside the meeting room of the Denham Springs-Walker Library stretched down the corridor, which echoed with the many voices of children and their parents as they anxiously waited to get inside.
With a few minutes to go until the 10 a.m. last Wednesday, the show most of them had anticipated all summer was now moments away.
The crowd quickly filed inside once children’s librarian Jonathan Post opened the doors, and by the time “The Harvey Rabbit and Friends Show “ started, there were more than 100 people seated in the room, all ready to enjoy one of the library’s most popular events of the summer.
Judging by the non-stop laughter that rang out all show long, it appears the they did.
Tim and Laura Allured, creators of “The Harvey Rabbit and Friends Show,” brought their educational act to all five branches of the Livingston Parish Library System this week, entertaining crowds with their one-hour program of ventriloquism, music, games and magic.
The programs were supported in part by a Decentralized Arts Funding Grant from the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge in cooperation with the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, and Louisiana State Arts Council.
The couple — also known as “The Harvey Rabbit People” — made stops at the Main Branch and Albany-Springfield Branch on Tuesday, the Denham Springs-Walker and Watson Branches on Wednesday, and the South Branch on Thursday.
But everyone got the same show, which featured Harvey Rabbit and his friends Cecil the Orangutan and T-Boy the Alligator.
“Are you ready to see ‘Harvey Rabbit?” Tim Allured asked the audience at the Denham Springs-Walker Branch.
“Yeah!” they all shouted, just as Laura Allured brought the big-earred puppet on stage.
The couple has gotten pretty used to the enthusiasm surrounding their show.
After working as school teachers in Calcasieu Parish for three years following their 1983 graduations from McNeese State University, the Allureds decided to “take a leap of faith” and pursue careers as full-time children’s performers.
They did shows on cruise ships and in schools for the first few years before getting calls from libraries hoping to acquire their services in 1992.
The Allureds did a few library performances that first year, but it steadily grew over the next several years.
Now, the Harvey Rabbit show has become a staple program during the summer for libraries across Mississippi, southeast Texas and Louisiana — including the five in Livingston Parish.
The Allureds will do between 80-90 shows this summer, performing as many as 10 shows a week and two shows a day until July 31.
“It keeps us busy,” Tim Allured said with a laugh.
The couple adapted their Harvey Rabbit show, which normally focuses on character education and drug-free messages during the school year, to promote the theme of the library’s summer reading program, “Build a Better World.”
At the Denham Springs-Walker Branch on Wednesday, seasoned ventriloquist Laura Allured and her “pal” Harvey Rabbit had everyone shouting the four-word phrase.
Laura Allured, who won a first-place award at the 1985 International Ventriloquist Convention, was the puppet master for Harvey Rabbit and his friends, delighting the crowd with her trio of characters.
Tim Allured donned a few costumes during the fun-filled variety show, such as “Jungle Jim” and “Slugo the Slouch,” and also performed some magic tricks.
“We just develop the shows by trial and error, just seeing what works,” he said.
It definitely seemed to work last week.
The Allured signed autographs and posed for pictures with children for more than half an hour following the conclusion of their show at the Denham Springs-Walker Branch. Some even purchased one of the five Harvey Rabbit videos.