“My Son Pinocchio” is perfectly magic at First Stage
Geppetto is a dedicated artisan who has grown lonely over the years. He wishes for a son, in the puppet Pinocchio, to be his family. His wish is granted, but does he know that any family can be difficult or ill-behaved during the holidays, especially children?
First Stage Children’s Theater strikes a heartfelt chord with the Disney musical, My Son Pinocchio. With several enchanting songs by Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz added to Disney’s Academy Award-winning melody, When You Wish Upon A Star, this fairytale also rings with notes of 21st century attitude.
Geppetto beautifully crafts a puppet that hangs on strings in his old world toyshop. By enchanting the puppet, whom the man has named Pinocchio, the Blue Fairy graciously grants Geppetto his wish for a son. All Pinocchio needs to do is prove he’s “brave, truthful and unselfish” to become a real boy – tasks that prove difficult for the new father as well. To become a real family by Christmas Eve brings trials and tribulations for both child and parent.
When father and son experience disappointment with each other (primarily because Pinocchio’s behavior reveals that he’s an imperfect child), Geppetto wishes to send Pinocchio back to the Blue Fairy. However, the greedy puppeteer Stromboli also wants Pinocchio and he asks the Blue Fairy to grant him his wish. She thinks this solution will be the perfect answer: Geppetto wants to give Pinocchio back, and Stromboli wants to keep him. Here the Blue Fairy reminds the audience, “Just because it’s magic doesn’t mean it’s easy… or that you know the end.”
The magic in McKinley Carter’s Blue Fairy and fairies in training delightfully add comic and musical memories to the performance. Each one dressed by award-winning designer Karin Kopischke in frothy pastels, they flutter through Keith Pitts’ alluring Italian snow village and around Geppetto’s toys with delicate footsteps, doused in Jason Fassl’s exceptional lighting designs.
The Donkey cast performed opening Saturday, with a talented Pinocchio in Cole Hines and fairy backup singers, Rosa (Rachel Schmeling), Arancia (Casey Tutton), Viola (Caroline Fossum) and the tiny tyrant Sue (Gaby Musickant). Micheal Weber recreated Stromboli with wicked charm while John Maclay as Geppetto provided that meaningful measure of parental angst and remorse.
What better message could Artistic Director Jeff Frank choose than this one for the holidays? In a heartwarming tale where one believes in wishing on stars, the Blue Fairy waves her wand to orchestrate a beguiling First Stage production that asks the audience to generously give their heart to someone. When the snow falls on Geppetto’s workshop to the last lines in My Son Pinocchio, Geppetto finally understands: “The more of your heart you give to someone else, the fuller it gets.”
First Stage Children’s Theater presents My Son Pinocchio in the Todd Wehr Theater at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts through December 26. Tickets and more information available here.