Attending a children’s theater production at Marriott Theatre is always a delight. These are one hour musical productions that are perfect for the younger theater audiences. My grandkids have been attending (and reviewing) since they were three. While some of the shows have the same title, the productions are different. For example, the current production of “Pinocchio” is not the same one that they had several years ago. In fact, seven year old Sarah, who saw the earlier edition around five years ago, was very excited about the production we witnessed today. Written by Marc Robin. this version is different from the animated cartoon version and some of the others we have seen in the past. The story is basis. Geppetto (deftly handled by Jarrod Zimmerman) and his wife have always wanted a child. This puppet-maker, not being able to have a child and losing his wife, ends up wishing for said son, only to find that the Blue Fairy ( a delightful performance by Dara Cameron, who shows off her lovely voice) is there to offer him this opportunity.
Geppetto, who has befriended a large insect, G. Hopper (grasshopper instead of cricket), played to perfection by the always reliable George Keating, asks his assistance in guiding the now “almost human” boy (deftly handled by Andrew Spatafora) towards reaching his goal of finding love and honesty, which will make him a real boy. Directed by Marriott veteran Dominic Missimi with choreography by Amanda Tanguay and musical direction by Tom Vendafreddo ( newcomers to the Marriott family), this is a slick one hour production that allows the audience to feel that they are part of the story. The cast is small in numbers, but large in talent with the rest of the ensemble being composed of Devin DeSantis, Liam Quealy, Laura Savage and Jeff Marx handling many roles. The adventures, while condensed to keep within the one hour performance (which by the way is perfect for the little ones), but we still go to the Stromboli Theatre, the “boys” still become donkeys, and of course we enter the whale, but all in a non threatening way. Sarah, when she first saw a production of “Pinocchio” had to leave the theater. This time, she was glued to every second of the action. Like all “fairy tales” there is a moral to the story- one that teaches little ones (and those that brought them to the theater as well) to “be honest” and “do the right thing”. When Pinocchio did not, his nose grew and while this is not what happens to us, seeing the trials and tribulations that our “little wooden boy” faces, makes us think about what we say, before we say it.
Rebecca was caught into the action from the very “get-go” and loved the dazzle and costumes (Nancy Missimi). There is no question in my mind that Marc Robin is a true kid at heart as he transforms these epic tales into theater for young audiences at Marriott. It is his book, Music and Lyrics, but there is also some additional material by another well known director, Rachel Rockwell. I would call this a MUST SEE. “Pinocchio” will continue at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, located at ten Marriott Drive, in Lincolnshire ( just south of Half Day Road/Route 22 and east of Milwaukee Ave./Route 21) thru August 2nd with performances as follows:
Wednesdays thru Sundays at 10 a.m. Tickets are $17.23 per person and available at the box office, by calling 1-847-634-0200 or online at www.MarriottTheatre.com
Plenty of free parking on the grounds. There is a great question/answer period following each performance. This is quite educational, not only for the kids, but the parents and grandparents as well. ENJOY!
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click “Pinocchio”