The classic morality tale about a wooden puppet who yearns to become a real boy comes to life with a magical mix of puppetry and live action and music, song and dance. And just a smattering of porkie pies…
Opening with a charming vignette told with evocative shadow puppetry, we learn the romantic yet tragic story of how toymaker Geppetto crafted a wooden marionette companion, an emblem of the son that he and his now sadly departed wife never had.
Times are hard, but kind-hearted Geppetto is enchanted by the little puppet boy, selling his coat to buy an ABC book for Pinocchio (meaning ‘little pine nut’) so he can go off to school to learn to be an upstanding citizen.
And while our eager-eyed young hero sets off with good intentions, he soon finds his head turned by more enticing sights than the classroom. Seduced by the bright lights, and manipulating ways of the unscrupulous ring master, Pinocchio joins Mary and Antoinette to become a performer, before being lured by another cunning duo – Fox and Cat – to follow their devious ways.
Innocent and naive but full of boyish charms, Pinocchio longs to be a real boy, but first he must learn some important life lessons about responsibility and honesty
Very soon, the consequences of Pinocchio’s actions begin to dawn on the naive fellow and life suddenly doesn’t seem so much fun when you’re a donkey! Can Pinocchio make amends?
Based on The Adventures of Pinocchio, penned by the Italian writer Carlo Collodi in 1883 and made famous by Walt Disney’s charming 1939 animation, this is a sweetly told morality tale, with some clever puppetry and a magical effect that sees Pinocchio’s nose growing before our eyes whenever he tells a fib.
There are great performances from a talented ensemble who sing, dance and pull off the comedy with panache – with special mention to the cheeky Fox and Cat here. There are still plenty of poignant and touching moments, especially when Pinocchio finally redeems himself.
It’s pretty hard to compete with the songs that Walt Disney created for Pinocchio (see Did you know? below), but this delightful score does an excellent job, with great songs that enhance the narrative and live orchestration that adds a magical feel.
Why go? To see a highly accomplished and entertaining song-and-dance adaptation of a well-loved fairytale.
Who is it best for? All ages – there is some mild peril when Pinocchio and Geppetto are caught up in the whale’s mouth, trying to plot their escape, and some children might empathize with Pinocchio’s rising panic as the Bad Boys lead him astray… and he starts “hee-aawing” like a donkey.
Top tip Pick up a programme for fun craft activities and games to play, including storytelling ideas and tips on staging your own puppet show.
Our favourite bit The shadow puppetry is enchanting, and we loved the dreamy, floating effect of a big blue sheet pulled across the stage to create the waves, but – if we’re totally honest – our favourite bit was seeing Pinocchio’s nose grow and shrink. How did they do that?!
Don’t go If you’re not willing to let your conscience be your guide.
While you’re there Visit the Cutty Sark and Greenwich Royal Musuems – both of which have family activities at the weekends. There’s still a chance to see the wonderful Against Captain’s Orders until August 31. The Greenwich Theatre is very close to the stunning Greenwich Park, where you can enjoy a stroll or a picnic, visit the playground or hire a pedalo for a turn around the pond.
Did you know? In 1939, Walt Disney’s Pinocchio was the first animated film to win an Academy Award in a competitive category (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) won an honorary Oscar two years earlier). The song “When You Wish Upon a Star” won the Academy Award for best original song and went on to become an iconic tune for Disney, being voted in the top 10 in the 100 Greatest Songs in Film History by The American Film Institute. The movie also won the Oscar for Best Original Score.
Fun fact When Jiminy Cricket opens a book to tell the story of Pinocchio at the beginning of the Disney film, two other books on the shelf – Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan – perhaps giving a clue about other Disney adaptations already being talked about.
Photo credit Claire Bilyard
About Greenwich Theatre Greenwich Theatre is one of London’s premiere off-West End theatres, presenting a year-round programme of drama, musicals and family theatre. One of the country’s fiercest advocates of high quality family theatre, they are also a key partner in the annual Greenwich Children’s Theatre Festival, which traditionally takes place during May half-term. The theatre’s annual pantomine has been hailed by critics as one of the finest in the country, and in 2015 they are celebrating their tenth anniversary with a new adaptation of Red Riding Hood. Other exciting performances for 2015 include The King of Tiny Things on Monday 26 October and The Snow Dragon by Tall Stories (of The Gruffalo fame) on 27–29 October.