Deaf West Theatre puts a unique spin on the children's classic THE ADVENTURES OF PINOCCHIO


February 7, 2010 - Kicking off its 20th Anniversary, Deaf West Theatre puts its own, unique spin on the classic story of a mischievous puppet who wishes to become a real, live boy. Using a mix of deaf and hearing actors, Stephen Rothman directs The Adventures of Pinocchio, a commedia dell arte adaptation of Carlo Collodi's 1883 novel by Lee Hall that brims with clever political subtext and sly social commentary. Deaf West's retelling of Pinocchio's treacherous journey through childhood opens February 25 at Deaf West Theatre in North Hollywood's NoHo Arts District, with two low-priced previews on February 17 and 18. (The Adventures of Pinocchio is rated "PG" for mild language and dark themes - recommended for ages 10 and up.)

Tony Award-winner Lee Hall (Billy Elliott) has created an adaptation of Carlo Collodi's novel that is steeped in the Italian tradition of commedia dell'arte, a comic that lends itself perfectly to Deaf West Theatre's signature, award-winning combination of signed and voiced theater. Characterized by improvised text based on plot outlines and stock characters, commedia uses sexually challenging language and physical comedy to poke fun at society. In that spirit, Hall encourages theater companies to "cut, expand, mess about and improvise to suit the needs and strengths of all involved." Deaf West has taken the playwright at his word, integrating ASL (American Sign Language) and controversies relevant to Deaf culture into the production. In keeping with Deaf West Theatre's singular artistic vision, The Adventures of Pinocchio will join talking and signing on stage in one poetic dance, illuminating the text in new ways and creating a uniquely rich theatrical experience.

"Pinocchio's story is hilarious and comical, full of old-fashioned slapstick and true theatrical magic," says Rothman. "But we'll also be sneaking some serious thematic material into the fun. Right around the time Pinocchio was written, something called the Milan Conference took place in Italy, which promoted the idea that sign language was not acceptable and that people who were deaf should learn to read lips. Similar forums wanted to prevent deaf people from marrying one another so that deafness would not be passed down to future generations. Using improvisation, we're working some of these concepts into our story."

The Adventures of Pinocchio stars James Royce Edwards (Deaf West's Pippin at the Taper, Broadway productions of Hairspray, Mamma Mia); Lindsay W. Evans (Deaf West's My Sister in This House); Matthew Henerson (Romeo and Juliet directed by Peter Hall at the Ahmanson, Hamlet directed by Dan Sullivan at South Coast Rep, When Garbo Talks at ICT); Tommy Korn (the face of Russienor Spring 2010 Menswear collection, Mr. Deaf California Ambassador '09-'11of C.A.D. Youth), Lexi Marman (former Miss Deaf California, Best Actress nominee for AFI Film Festival award winner Hamill); Colin O'Brien-Lux (recent graduate of UCLA's school of Theater Film and Television); Darrin Revitz (Deaf West's My Sister in This House, Linda Eder at The Palace on Broadway, LADCC award-winning productions of assassins and Zanna Don't, LA Weekly Best Musical The Beastly Bombing); Vae (Deaf West productions of Oliver!, Aesop Who?, the national tour of Big River); and, as Pinocchio, Amber Zion (Deaf West's My Sister in this House).

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Amber Cassell From a very early age, Amber Romina Cassell always knew that she did not want to be a writer. While attending film school at the University of Southern California, however, she volunteered as a critic for the school newspaper in order to see all the plays and screenings around town and the rest, as they say, is history. A devoted lover of musical theater, Amber has had the immense pleasure of covering some of Los Angeles' most prominent theatrical events and has conducted in-depth interviews with some of Broadway's greatest talents and strives everyday to help promote and encourage the LA theater scene.

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