Barefoot Bios

Meet the people behind the puppets!

Great puppet shows only happen with the dedicated work of hard-working, dedicated, and, well, let’s face it, somewhat strange people. Everyone in the company wears many hats. Puppeteers perform, travel, build things, break things, fix things, do workshops with people, do funny voices, memorize lines, improvise, and so much more. Most importantly, though, we show up on time with all of our equipment, ready to perform!

Heidi Rugg – Founder, Director, Writer, Fiber Artist, Puppeteer, Puppet Builder, and Set Designer

Puppeteering allows Heidi to integrate her fascination with stories, goofy voices, animals,  prototyping, creativity, and writing with her love for art. She has devoted much energy these past few years to transforming her puppet building practice to be more sustainable. Working with wool, papier-mache, and other fibers, the puppets coming out of the studio nowadays are almost entirely biodegradable! Heidi also repurposes materials in her puppetmaking and set-design work.

Heidi began building puppets in elementary school to fulfill visual aid requirements for book reports. Having already mastered the diorama, she dove into puppetry creating Anne Frank and the entire cast of characters from Lloyd Alexander’s “The Book of Three.” These first puppets were created…(Click for more.)

Sam Rugg: Technical Director, Driver, Set Builder, Puppeteer, and Roadie

Sam has been full-time with the company since 2001. He describes his job as, “I drive the truck and carry things,” but his role is so much bigger than that. In addition to his masterful driving and carrying skills, Sam keeps the books, maintains and improves the technical equipment, and designs REALLY cool scenery. His love of power tools comes in handy during the building of a new show.

Sam enjoys traveling, meeting new people at various venues, and making sure all the buttons click, the mics are set right, and the lights are aimed correctly.  (Click for more.)


Nicole Moran: Puppeteer, Puppet Builder & Designer

Nicole began working with Barefoot Puppet Theatre in the studio in January 2022, designing, prototyping, and building puppets. She also now performs in two company shows, including NEW SQUID ON THE BLOCK! Nicole received her BA in dance from James Madison University and has been teaching dance for over 10 years. She has previously performed and choreographed for Dance Matrix Dance Company and JMU’s Contemporary Dance Ensemble. She has written and directed four original dance productions, and her work “The Collective” has been accepted into four dance festivals throughout Virginia in the last year. Recent performance credits include Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens. Nicole is Level 1 certified in Progressing Ballet Technique, and has a deep interest in the anatomy and physics of dance. Her training includes Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet Summer Course, the American Dance Festival Summer Program, and Modus Operandi Summer Intensive.


Our Amazing Musicians:

Charles ArthurCharles “The King” Arthur: Musician and Composer

A master of all things with strings, Charles is the mastermind behind the music for our newest show, “Little by Little.” Charles has been an adjunct instructor and ensemble director at the University of Richmond since 2001. 
In 2005, he started the school’s first Bluegrass Ensemble, and in 2008 he began the American Roots Ensemble, which focuses on the Blues.

In addition to teaching, Charles makes his living as a musician, and has toured the United States, Canada, and UK with award-winning Americana artist Slaid Cleaves. He has been featured on most of Cleaves’ recordings, as well as recording extensively as a sideman on commercials, soundtracks, and other international releases.  Currently, Charles is composing and performing music for public radio’s ‘A Grain of Sand’, which airs on Richmond’s WRIR.


Ned Haskins

Ned has been a cellist since the tender age of 10 and now produces, composes, arranges, and records music. He plays with various ensembles and orchestras throughout Virginia; his booking agency, Ninja Strings, provides live music for public and private events across the Eastern Seaboard. Ned is a collaborator; he composed and recorded the music for Barefoot Puppet Theatre’s wordless performance, NEW SQUID ON THE BLOCK. He resides in Richmond, just a stone’s throw away from the James River.

Eric Weinberg: Musician and Composer

Eric’s talents have been instrumental (we mean that literally, of course) in composing and recording the music for many of our shows. Eric performs regularly in the DC area and has toured. He has his own state-of-the-art recording studio for his label, Little Erich Studio, in his home in Burke, Virginia.


Barefoot Puppet Theater tours award-winning programs to theatres, schools, libraries, children's museums and more. Though we are based out of Richmond, VA, our self-contained productions tour across the country. No matter your location, Barefoot Puppet Theatre would be thrilled to perform for you! Contact us today!


P.O. Box 26366, Richmond, VA 23260 | 804. 358. 3377