Virginia Repertory Theatre’s production of Pinocchio recaptures the timeless fairy tale about the famous Italian puppet and the price that is paid for telling lies.
The tale begins with Geppetto transforming a talking piece of wood, Pinocchio, into a marionette. Throughout the story, the audience follows the puppet’s journey to become a real boy and the unwitting lessons that follow.
After his creation, the curious and inquisitive Pinocchio sets out to enjoy the outdoors. Although he is unaware of the dangers ahead, Pinocchio learns repeatedly that his poor choices and actions have consequences that affect others, not just himself. From his encounters with the Fire Eater Puppet Master, the manipulative Cat and Fox duo, and the Blue Fairy, Pinocchio learns the importance of standing up for himself and doing the right thing.
Once the audience witnesses the infamous effect of Pinocchio’s lies, it is a familiar reminder of the importance of telling the truth. For little ones who may be meeting Pinocchio for the first time, the play sets up multiple conversations on honesty, responsibility, bravery, and kindness.
The combination of fun, catchy songs, and humor for children, coupled with a few extra chuckles for adults, make for an engaging show. The cast of five maneuvers between multiple characters with ease and takes on each of their personalities with expertise. They lead the audience through a variety of scenes that include Geppetto’s woodshop, the dark woods, and the belly of a dogfish.
The pace of the story was perfect for little ones. The hour flew by, and I was shocked at the start of the reprise signaling the play’s ending.I didn’t see much fidgeting at this performance as the young audience members remained entertained by the actors who asked questions and encouraged them to shout out answers and clap along to songs. A couple of times I caught my 5-year-old swaying to the music – which she sang on repeat the whole way home!
Full of delightful songs, lively characters, and many lessons for kids and their grown-ups, Virginia Rep does a fantastic job of retelling the beloved story of Pinocchio.
Pinocchio runs through May 5 at the Children’s Theatre of Virginia at Willow Lawn. For tickets and show times – including information about sensory-friendly performances – go here.
Reviewed by Ashley Hewlett, author of Cailey’s Best Day.