I have always felt that if one can get kids to the theater at a young age, they will learn to love it as I do. Over the years, I have taken my grandkids ( before that my own kids) to different venues that offer programs for the kids. Last week, I took Adam ( 5) who has been to many productions and his sister Sara ( 2 plus), her first, to Marriott Theatre for young audiences production of “Pinocchio”. The director and choreographer is Rachel Rockwell, who truly knows how to use the theater in the round at Marriott and no matter what the mainstage production is, finds a way to create the visuals for the kids in order to keep them in the show. I have to tell you that the casting is only a small part of these productions as Marriott has a stable of actors who can sing and dance as well as bring these characters to life that can handle anything. The press release had one set of actors listed and the show we attended had a few changes, but it made no difference- what I witnessed was a solid production that kept the interest of the young audience from start to finish. Adam was glued to the vision he saw and when we got back to his house, wrote his own review, which I will share with you at the end of this ( his exact words). Sara lasted through most of it with hardly a blink, but did get a little scared during the whale scene. In fact, she did better than her grandma.
The story is about a puppeteer, Geppetto, who is all alone, except for his puppets and then one day befriends a grasshopper ( not a cricket). Jackson Evans is very funny in this role and later , after the show, hosts a wonderful talkback with the kids, answering many of the questions that arose from the seeing of a “live” performance. Geppeto would love to ave a son of his own and thanks to the Blue Fairy ( a marvelous character portrayed by Corry Goodrich) the chance to have a son is given to him- his puppet, Pinocchio becomes almost alive and can become a real boy , only if he can learn to love and care about others.
Along the way, he meets many characters who try to sway him from the right path and one of the things we learn from this play is not to lie, being wooden of course, if he lies, his nose grows and we witness this several times during his adventures. The adventures in the 60 minutes come fast and furious; the evli puppeteer Stromboli who wants to exploit this wooden boy, the bad boys who want to take him away from school to have fun at “candy Island”, a place where all of the bad boys are turned into donkeys and sold and then the whale portion where he gets the opportunity to use his brain and his heart.
This is a slick and clever production that is sure to hold the interest of your youngsters. Jameson Cooper is a strong Pinocchio. The set by Jesse Gaffney, costumes by Nancy Missimi and lighting by Jesse Klug all add to the magic of the script and songs created by Robin, and the small cast, who take on all types of roles is full of energy and pep as they sing and dance their way into your hearts in the re-telling of this classical story. The theater doesn’t give out programs for the kids ( I guess to be “green”) but a lot of those sitting around me would really have liked to have one for the memories of the day. The cast members I am sure of are Ericka Mac and Richard Strimer ( Kitty and Fox),Scott Calcagno and Adrian Aguilar and Michael Haws as Geppetto.
If you are looking for something to do with your kids or grandkids on a morning, take a trip to Lincolnshire and visit the Marriott Theatre where “Pinocchio” will play through August 29th with performances as follows:
Wednesday through Sunday at 10 a.m. There are also a few added 12:30 p.m. Ticket prices are $15 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 847-634-0200 or online at www.ticketmaster.com
Marriott Theatre at Lincolnshire is located at the Marriott Resort in Lincolnshire on Marriott Drive, just south of Route 22 and East of route 21 and there is plenty of free parking. There are also some dining areas in the resort but loads of places to eat along Milwaukee Avenue.