If there is anything at all to complain about when it comes to a CharacterWorks production (other than too darned much talent and entirely too much entertainment value), it could maybe, possibly be that they tend to run a little on the long side, especially for the younger audience members (that’s called getting the most bang for your buck, people!). The other problem is that the tickets are usually completely sold out for the entire run, well in advance. This should tell you just how good each and every performance is. Well, I’ve got good news on both of these fronts for their current show! Disney’s My Son Pinocchio Jr., playing this weekend at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, is not too long, AND there are still a few tickets available for most performances (Sunday is sold out). Coming in at about an hour and forty minutes, with a 20-minute intermission that’s full of fun raffles, souvenirs, and snacks, as well as time to hit the awesome gift shop at the Arts Center, it’s just the right length to make you feel like you got your money’s worth, without tiring out your little guys and gals.
Pinocchio Jr. is a fresh, new spin on Disney’s classic tale of toymaker Geppetto’s little wooden puppet, retelling it from Gepetto’s perspective. The production features the beloved songs “When you Wish Upon a Star” and “I’ve Got No Strings,” alongside a host of new songs by Oscar- and Grammy-winner and composer of Wicked and Godspell Stephen Schwartz. There are many lessons to be learned in this story about what it means to be a “perfect child” and what it means to be a real father, and families will relate to many of the scenes that play out on stage. I could hear snickers and see nods of agreement throughout the sold-out opening night audience during the ensemble toy shop scene at the beginning. That was my personal favorite scene of the night, and I could totally relate.
As always, the CharacterWorks students were cast in roles that suited them to perfection. The Blue Fairy, played by Nichole Gould, fashioned in a very cool lit-up dress, along with her fairy ensemble, played by Audrey White, Ashley Sanfacon, Jillian Schmid, and Rebekah Blackburn, kept the show moving from scene to scene in the most whimsical of ways. CharacterWorks regulars may remember Gepetto, played by Deep Run freshman Max Wasilik, from one of his fourteen other CW shows, including his most recent as Smee in Peter Pan. Fourteen-year-old Daniel Kroll landed the role of Pinocchio in his eighteenth CW production, and he’ll be honing his skills at Henrico High School’s Center for the Arts in the fall. Grace Mitscherlich, 12-year-old seventh grader at Short Pump Middle School, played Stromboli, the puppeteer intent on hanging on to Pinocchio to keep her career alive. She was a real stand-out and had fellow castmates lining up for pictures with her in the lobby after the show. The ensemble cast is seventy kids strong, and each one looks as happy to be up on that stage as the next. It’s really a sight to behold.
And on another front, a big congratulations to the CharacterWorks team for being one of only 22 non-profs from across the country to receive the Chick-fil-A True Inspiration Award! For this, CW received a grant to further their work fostering leadership and entrepreneurial spirit in children. Way to go!!
Disney’s My Son Pinocchio Jr. continues Memorial Day weekend at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. If you’re in town for the holiday weekend, this is must-see for the whole family. For tickets and showtimes, visit CharacterWorks.
Check out RFM on Facebook and enter to win a family 4-pack of tickets to the sold-out closing performance on Saturday, May 28, at seven. Drawing to be held Saturday morning at ten and winner will be notified on Facebook.