BWW Reviews: PINOCCHIO Engages All Ages

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"Pinocchio" Engages All Ages at Red Branch Theatre

"You can't be a real boy until you prove that you are good and honest. Do you think you can do that?" That's the fairy's challenge to Pinocchio, Geppetto's workshop puppet creation made of wood. And like every other youngster, Pinocchio heads out on his day with the best of intentions and gets sidelined on his way to "good" and "honest" by false promises and false friends.  Red Branch Theatre Company performs a wonderful rendition of the famous fairy tale about making good choices and listening to your elders.

Kudos to Kathryn Marshall who plays an aged Geppetto and Caroline Wolfson who captures the innocence of Pinocchio and performs the antics of boyhood with true commitment and astonishment at the outcomes. Of special note are the costumes of this production.  Costume Designer Cristina Shunk has created (or gathered) some vibrant costumes that help the characters come alive for the children. They all have a magical look and feel that make the actor familiar to the children but a little bit special in her role. (Did I mention all the performers were women?)

The best part of this production, however, was how the audience was drawn into the story. Red Branch Theatre produces theater events that focus on the interaction between theater and the audience.  My five-year-old companion was entranced with the actors who came down from the aisles. He giggled out loud when Pinocchio was heading out to school and an audience member gave him books to take with him.  Later when Pinocchio needed to start a fire in the belly of the whale to free Geppetto, the fire wood, too, came from the audience.  There were other kid engaging moments throughout the production and all the children responded to each request for their help. It's a wonderful recipe for introducing young children to storytelling and theater.  

Red Branch Theatre has an interesting twist with some of its performances.  Its plays offer not only a performance but an event around them.  For example, the production of "Pinocchio" offered parents a chance to leave the kids at the show and shop for the holidays.  The "Shop Til You Drop" PJ Party included a show, games and crafts for kids allowing parents time to holiday shop. Ingenious.  In 2013, similar events are planned for March 22 – 24 – A Weekend of Children's Theater Fun, Parents' Night out PJ Party, and again next December with another Shop Til You Drop PJ Party and Performance. It's a wonderful way to introduce children to theater in a fun, non-formal environment.

"Pinocchio" runs through December 16 at the Drama Learning Center in Columbia and you can find out more at www.redbranchtheatrecompany.com. The Company has been operating since 2008 in the Baltimore/Washington corridor.

"Pinocchio" Engages All Ages at Red Branch Theatre

"You can't be a real boy until you prove that you are good and honest. Do you think you can do that?" That's the fairy's challenge to Pinocchio, Geppetto's workshop puppet creation made of wood. And like every other youngster, Pinocchio heads out on his day with the best of intentions and gets sidelined on his way to "good" and "honest" by false promises and false friends.  Red Branch Theatre Company performs a wonderful rendition of the famous fairy tale about making good choices and listening to your elders.

Kudos to Kathryn Marshall who plays an aged Geppetto and Caroline Wolfson who captures the innocence of Pinocchio and performs the antics of boyhood with true commitment and astonishment at the outcomes. Of special note are the costumes of this production.  Costume Designer Cristina Shunk has created (or gathered) some vibrant costumes that help the characters come alive for the children. They all have a magical look and feel that make the actor familiar to the children but a little bit special in her role. (Did I mention all the performers were women?)

The best part of this production, however, was how the audience was drawn into the story. Red Branch Theatre produces theater events that focus on the interaction between theater and the audience.  My five-year-old companion was entranced with the actors who came down from the aisles. He giggled out loud when Pinocchio was heading out to school and an audience member gave him books to take with him.  Later when Pinocchio needed to start a fire in the belly of the whale to free Geppetto, the fire wood, too, came from the audience.  There were other kid engaging moments throughout the production and all the children responded to each request for their help. It's a wonderful recipe for introducing young children to storytelling and theater.  

Red Branch Theatre has an interesting twist with some of its performances.  Its plays offer not only a performance but an event around them.  For example, the production of "Pinocchio" offered parents a chance to leave the kids at the show and shop for the holidays.  The "Shop Til You Drop" PJ Party included a show, games and crafts for kids allowing parents time to holiday shop. Ingenious.  In 2013, similar events are planned for March 22 – 24 – A Weekend of Children's Theater Fun, Parents' Night out PJ Party, and again next December with another Shop Til You Drop PJ Party and Performance. It's a wonderful way to introduce children to theater in a fun, non-formal environment.

"Pinocchio" runs through December 16 at the Drama Learning Center in Columbia and you can find out more at www.redbranchtheatrecompany.com. The Company has been operating since 2008 in the Baltimore/Washington corridor.

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Lori Weglein Lori Weglein is a versatile marketing communications professional with expertise in: account management, direct marketing, sales support, strategic planning, corporate branding, media relations, special events, issues management, market research, publications employee communications and trade shows. Her theater experience includes acting and directing.


 
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