The Adventures of Pinocchio, at the Greenwich Theatre (review)

These summer holidays we were lucky enough to see The Adventures of Pinocchio at the Greenwich Theatre.

Everyone knows a version of this story – the Disney film goes back to 1940 and although I have confused memories of the plot and characters I remembered quite clearly that Pinocchio was a puppet who yearned to be a real boy, and that he had a rather special nose.

This version was originally created by and for the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. This is its UK premiere.  The show stands out from other children’s shows we have seen by the quality of its score. The book and the music were written and composed by the partnership of Brian Hill (book) and Neil Bartram (composer and lyricist) who have written for Broadway and Disney.  The five-strong cast belt out the songs and of course accompany them with lively dancing.  Special praise must go to Christian James, who plays Pinocchio, who is on stage for most of the show and retains his puppet-like woodenness throughout…until the happy ending which I will not give away!

Photos by Claire Bilyard

There is a moral to the story of course.  On Pinocchio’s journey he encounters some experiences and some thoroughly nasty characters, which all help to teach him the values of love, courage and truth.  The nose which extends when Pinocchio tells a lie is a mechanical feat and another thing which Christian James (and its designer) should be applauded for!

I asked the children who their favourite characters were.  They both said Fox and Cat, the villains, although both unsurprisingly admitted to liking Pinocchio too.  Their favourite bit was the rousing musical number Terra di Ragazzi. I, on the other hand, liked the scene where Pinocchio ends up in the belly of a big fish.  This was so effective, created by few props on a small stage, and the sea and waves were quite magical thanks to the lighting design.

Even Grandma (my mum) enjoyed the show, which took her a bit by surprise. I don’t think she was expecting quite as professional a production as this one.

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Three cheers to all involved for The Adventures of Pinocchio at the Greenwich Theatre.  The run ends tomorrow (23rd August 2015) but you can keep up with the show on its Twitter account as I wouldn’t be surprised if it pops up elsewhere in the very short term.

Disclaimer:  We were given free tickets to see The Adventures of Pinocchio for the purpose of this review.  All opinions are my own. All photos are copyright of Claire Bilyard, except for the one of my family, which I took myself.

Please see the Greenwich Theatre website for further information about what’s on.

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