Peggy Sue Dunigan

A new twist on an old tale at First Stage Children’s Theater

By - Nov 20th, 2010 05:13 pm
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In a tale the audience may recall from animated Disney movies, My Son Pinocchio revisits a timely holiday theme, centered around the blessings received through joy, love and sharing family.

Beginning November 26, First Stage Children’s Theater presents their seasonal performance of author David Stein’s beloved tale, in which an aging Geppetto struggles to come to terms with his new role as parent to Pinocchio — now  a real, live boy. What follows is a heartfelt and entertaining journey in which parent and child rediscover the love they share for each other.

Artistic Director Jeff Frank explains that an original score by Stephen Schwartz adds the emotional arc to the story’s dual struggles. In the final collaborations with Schwartz for the script, Frank created a premiere production that revises lines and lyrics, incorporating classic Disney songs with original compositions to offer a festive musical package rich in sentiment and perfect for December audiences.

The true sentiment in the story stems from Pinocchio’s tribulations as he makes the transformation from wooden puppet to real boy, and involves his propensity for lying — after which his nose grows longer in the story and on stage. This allows Frank to uncover the ambiguous emotions every parent encounters when their child behaves poorly. How do parents accept a less than perfect child, or children an imperfect adult learning how to be a good parent?

John Maclay, who is father to a five-year-old in real life, stars as Geppetto opposite two child actors who play the pre-adolescent Pinocchio. Accompanying this lead duet, McKinley Carter returns to the First Stage as the Blue Fairy, replete with five-foot-wide tulle skirt and wings designed by Karin Kopischke. Frank eagerly anticipates how McKinley will enliven the production because, as he says, “She has the comedic skills of Lucille Ball and sings like Julie Andrews.”

Recorded orchestration provides the music, which presented First Stage with a huge challenge in this adaptation, evolved from a previous production titled Geppetto and Son, produced at Kansas City’s Coterie Theater. Two casts with 25 children each raise the stress factor in rehearsals and on stage, especially during this particular season. Yet, Frank encourages all the child actors that they will be “the first people to give voice to this special version.”

Challenges aside, Franks intimates that the production will provide a powerful statement about the depth to a parent’s love, and reflects that no parent or child need ever be perfect. By the finale, he says, everyone will believe the Blue Fairy when she sings, “When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”

First Stage Children’s Theater presents My Son Pinocchio: A Musical Tale for the Holidays from November 26 through December 26. For tickets call: 414-273-7206 or visit First Stage online.

Categories: Arts & Culture, Theater

0 thoughts on “A new twist on an old tale at First Stage Children’s Theater”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Stephen Schwartz’s first name is misspelled in this article, and I’m pretty sure the number for the Marcus Center Box Office is 273-7206.

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