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Before curtain time at the Nancy Bock Center for the Performing Arts, the room was filled with the familiar buzz of audience excitement that one has come to expect when Class Act Productions is presenting a show from Founder/Producer, Keith Brumfield. In this case, the offering was the Disney musical, MY SON PINOCCHIO Geppetto’s Musical Tale. With book by David I. Stern and Music & Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, this edition was delightfully directed by Tina Kraft. Adding to that delight was the enormous cast of talented local youngsters that brought this new and amusing take on the familiar story to joyous life for last weekend’s three sellout performances.
This charming journey, based on both the original 1883 Carlo Collodi tale, The Adventures of Pinocchio, and the later 1940 Disney film, Pinocchio, begins as we meet the hilariously egotistical Blue Fairy (Isabelle Yost) who thinks she is the living embodiment of perfection and can do no wrong.
Enter Geppetto the woodcarver and toymaker (Jordan Rubio), who approaches the Blue Fairy to complain he would like to return the wooden boy, Pinocchio, that she had once brought to life through her magic. Mr. Rubio displays his fine singing voice as Geppetto claims the fairy has created an imperfect boy because Pinocchio (Andersen McDaniel) is a problem child. She is incensed at the suggestion her handiwork was not perfect, and her blatant narcissism is so innocently and genuinely over-the-top it adds to the fun throughout the show. Miss Yost plays it to the hilt with a terrific flair for comedy, but better still she has a very wonderful voice for songs like “Just Because It’s Magic,” and of course the classic, “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
She is merrily assisted by her four Fairies-in-Training (Marina Garcia de Quevedo, Katarina Brosvik, Madisen Campbell, and Riley Mitchell). They sing beautifully as well, and add to the hilarity, but conflict arises when we meet the conniving puppeteer, Stromboli, wickedly played by Jessica Helgerud.
Stromboli has two very animated marionettes (Emily Freeman & Greta Faith Lamb), and meanwhile conspires to capture the amazing live wooden boy, Pinocchio, to be the star of her own puppet show. For his part, Mr. McDaniel brings both deviltry and tenderness to his performance in the title role, and does nicely performing the charming, “I Got No Strings.”
Anchoring all this action is the beautiful singing (Music Director, Laurelyn Korfhage) and dancing (Choreographer, Jodi Schrier) from this huge ensemble of very talented young people. The beaming joy they project for the many songs in this labor of love would clearly warm the hearts of all those present in the audience. The music in this edition is pleasant enough and appropriate to the light-weight plot, but the new songs are probably not destined for the classic status awarded to “When You Wish Upon a Star,” and “I Got No Strings,” both included here from the earlier Disney film with the music by Leigh Harline & lyrics by Ned Washington.
Never-the-less, there was fun on every hand in various brilliant scenes that take place in Geppetto’s toyshop, at Stromboli’s puppet show, along a forest road, or in the laboratory of zany, Professor Buonragazzo (Maeve Jensen), who has invented a machine that can manufacture perfect little boys and girls.
Another dazzling scene was the world of “Pleasure Island,” where bad boys soon make jackasses of themselves, and the joyous “Mardi Gras Dance” there was a knock-out that wove its way right through the audience! All these scenes featured the beautiful set designs of Kent Hale, the scenic artistry of Katie Arceneaux & Sally Menes, and fine lighting from designer Blake Minor. The countless and glorious costumes were designed by Kristi Tabor. Score this another victory for Class Act Productions and the countless community volunteers that make the magic happen. Area resident, Mattie Tabor, seemed to agree as she was leaving the theater. She was overheard to say, “I’ve never seen one of these shows that wasn’t wonderful!”
CLASS ACT plans performances of MARY POPPINS on July 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, & 19 in 2015. Auditions are scheduled for May 2, 2015. For further updates visit http://www.ClassActProductions.org .