If you have children, then the summer holidays can be fraught with issues, mainly around what to do with the offspring to keep them amused until you can cart them off back to school. So, I would suggest that you get yourselves out and head to the Greenwich Theatre where Aria Entertainment are currently presenting “The Adventures of Pinocchio”.
Following the death of his wife, Alice, esteemed toymaker Geppetto (Martin Neely) plants a tree by her grave and watches it grow tall and strong. Geppetto is not having a great time of things. Since his wife died, Geppetto has been very lonely and his business has gone into a steep decline. In a fit of desperation, he cuts down the tree by Alice’s grave and decides to make himself a wooden boy to keep him company. With assistance from the Blue Fairy (Rachel Louise Miller) Geppetto works on his log and finally produces his boy, who he names Pinocchio (Christian James).
After getting Pinocchio a school book, Geppetto sends his boy off to school. Being very young – only a couple of hours old – and unversed in the ways of the world, Pinocchio finds himself easily distracted on his way to school and when characters such as the Wily Fox (James Charlton) and Cat (Cerise Hine), not to mention naughty schoolboy Lampwick and the puppet masters come into his life, Pinocchio finds himself drawn from the straight and narrow path in a search for fun and adventure. While a distraught Geppetto is out looking for his boy, Pinocchio learns some valuable life lessons before the two of them are finally reunited in the most unusual of spaces. Can Pinocchio and Geppetto be reconciled and will Pinocchio achieve his wish to be a real boy?
Written by Brian Hill with music and lyrics by Neil Bartram “The Adventures of Pinocchio” is a lovely retelling of Carlo Collodi’s story of the little wooden boy. The opening sequence – using shadow puppets – is very effective and really grabbed the attention of the audience from the start. As there were many children watching the show this was a great move by Director Bronagh Lagan, as once they had looked with wonder on the opening, they stayed with the show throughout. Set and Costume Designer Nik Corrall has produced a really colourful set of costumes that define each character really well and the story moves at a nice pace. My only criticism would be that I thought there should be a slightly larger cast, as at times there seemed to be a lot of running around backstage going on. I also would have liked to see more of Geppetto as Martin Neely’s voice and stage presence seemed to call out for a larger role. Those aside, I enjoyed “The Adventures of Pinocchio”.
Overall it was a really entertaining show that was a pretty faithful retelling of the story that didn’t take the easy option down the Disney sweetness and light road. I, along with everyone else gave a cheer when Pinocchio turned into a real boy and left the theatre, happy that there had been a happy ending for all.
Review by Terry Eastham
Originally produced at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, a new musical adaptation of the classic children’s story will receive its UK Premiere here at Greenwich Theatre this summer.
Based on Carlo Collodi’s classic tale, Pinocchio tells the story of a wooden puppet yearning to be a real boy. Carved out of wood by the lonely toymaker Geppetto, Pinocchio tumbles from one disastrous situation to another in search of adventure — only to discover that, in the end, all he really needs is an unselfish heart and the love of his father.
Written by the Broadway and Disney writing duo Neil Bartram and Brian Hill (The Story of My Life, Bedknobs and Broomsticks), this family musical brings a new vision of the timeless story to the stage, springing to life with inventive and awe-inspiring puppetry, live musicians, singers and performers.
The production is directed by Bronagh Lagan (Portia Coughlan, Girlfriends, Rags In Concert) with Musical Direction by Freddie Tapner (Girlfriends, Mr Swallow The Musical, The Sorrows Of Satan). It is produced by Katy Lipson for Aria Entertainment, Guy James and Ilai Szpiezak for Szpiezak Productions in association with Greenwich Theatre.
Presented by special arrangement with R&H Theatricals Europe
Performance times Tue-Fri 3pm, Sat 12pm, Sun 12pm & 3pm
Wednesday 5th to Sunday 23rd August 2015
Saturday 8th August 2015