The Adventures of Pinocchio is a family musical based on the traditional Italian story of a wooden puppet who longs to be a real boy. This musical adaptation of the classic story is written by Brian Hill (book writer) and Neil Bertram (music & lyrics). Featuring well known characters such as the Blue Fairy and Geppetto this enchanting production is a treat for young audiences.
Bronagh Lagan has created a magical story telling environment full of twists and turns and fascinating characters. Her imaginative direction provides the perfect platform for this honest, charming story. The show opens with a simple yet beautifully effective puppet scene narrated by the Blue Fairy/Storyteller that whisks you away into the enchanted world of magical fairies, evil circus masters and wise crickets. We are transported through the brilliant design of Nik Corrall to the house of Geppetto, the Puppet Master’s Circus, Terra Di Ragazzi where all the boys are turned into donkeys and finally the huge inside of the belly of a whale. Corrall has used vivid colours and large stretches of material to create some marvellous scene changes.
The cast all share a brilliant energy and enthusiasm for telling this wonderful story. Martin Neely is a warm, loveable Geppetto and gives a strong central performance that holds the show together. Lizzie Rees as the Blue Fairy is beautiful and sincere and has a few notable musical moments. Nathaniel Purnell who plays the title role of Pinocchio has adopted a wonderfully wooden physicality for the role. He is a likeable Pinocchio and interacts well with the younger cast members.
The highlight of the show are the performances from the comedy duo of Fox & Cat played by Joshua Hill and Olivia Bowden. They are eccentric, outrageous and have excellent comic timing. There is also an element of ‘little and large’ in casting the duo which adds to the comedy.
The music is what you would expect; wonderfully magical in the typical contemporary musical theatre style and there are a few very catchy musical numbers notably Choices and Money Grows On Trees. However, overall I found the lyrics too much for the young cast to get to grips with especially in the ensemble numbers. There were a few technical issues, mainly with the balance of sound. Some parts were overpoweringly loud and others were slightly muffled but I will put that down to the show being double/triple cast with the younger members. The script is charming and witty and sends a great moral message of being kind and unselfish to young audiences. The choreography by Anthony Whiteman is fast paced & slick & added a brilliant energy to the piece. The ensemble numbers in particular were full of character and a lot of fun for the audience.
The Adventures Of Pinocchio is a lovely way to introduce young audiences to theatre whilst still keeping the older audience members entertained. It’s a charming show with a good message and an enjoyable 70 minutes of escapism during the summer holidays.