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BWW Review: PINOCCHIO at Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre

BWW Review: PINOCCHIO at Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre

On Sunday, January 14, I had the pleasure of seeing PINOCCHIO at the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre in Bridgeport, CT. This original adaptation is written and directed by Lance Anthony who also stars as Geppetto, Mangiafuoco, and the Coachman, effectively conveying all three distinct characters.

As typical with the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre, the music includes mainstream songs from the past and present, performed well, choreographed well, and brilliantly placed into parts of the show where the songs are relevant to the storyline. Phillip Phillips' "Gone, Gone, Gone," Elton John's "I'm Still Standing," and an adaptation of Styx's "Come Sail Away," are among the musical highlights.

The screen in the back of the stage is well used to help convey the settings of the different scenes. The lighting effects include Geppetto using "the Clapper," and lights darkening at appropriate times so that Pinocchio's nose can be longer when the lights come back on.

The entire theatre is used, as characters make entrances and exits through the house. There is plenty of breaking of the fourth wall, allowing the children to enthusiastically participate by helping the actors count, and answer questions. Involving the audience is common to the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre, and always yields positive results that draw both children and adults deeper into the show.

Robert Peterpaul stars as Pinocchio, including impressively staying still at the beginning of the show, successfully selling the message that he was then inanimate and made of wood. When he comes to life, he also does so in a highly believable manner.

Corinne Marshall does an excellent job portraying the Fairy with Turquoise Hair, someone who repeatedly tries to use clever rhymes to create magic, but finds that routine magic words are what yield the desired results. The Fairy with Turquoise Hair is limited by the need to recharge her magic powers after they are overused, a unique and effective unexpected character element that works well to increase the degree of conflict in this adaptation.

Andrea Pane plays the sly fox named Volpe, while Jessica Rahrig plays Gatto, the sly fox's feline sidekick. The stage chemistry between Andrea Pane and Jessica Rahrig is strong and effective, enhancing the dynamics between these two characters, as well as three other pairs of characters that interact with each other, and are also respectively played by Andrea Pane and Jessica Rahrig, who are thus both quadruple cast in this production, one of those pairs of characters being voiced puppet fish.

Myles Tripp steals the show as Grillo, the cricket who deeply resents when Geppetto refers to him as a "bug," rather than an insect. As Geppetto and Grillo sing Madonna's "Lucky Star," Geppetto tries to intermingle some spoken words, only to get repeatedly deliberately cut off by Grillo intentionally increasing the volume and feeling of his own singing, done with such an effective comical delivery that children and adults were both laughing out loud. The strong stage dynamics between Lance Anthony and Myles Tripp made them yet another effective duo.

For anyone who was traumatized as a child by the Pleasure Island scene of the Disney cartoon, you will be happy to know that use of shadows and subtlety in this stage adaptation are likely to protect children in the audience from experiencing the emotional terror that the Disney cartoon creates.

Children can learn a powerful lesson in identifying the strategies of evil, by reflecting upon the behaviors of Volpe and Gatto. With the goal of gaining money, Volpe and Gatto deliberately target an uniformed and naïve youngster (Pinocchio), insist that he does not communicate with his guardian, and manipulate him into making poor decisions that he will regret, all the while trying to slickly come across as caring about Pinocchio's well-being.

I highly recommend PINOCCHIO which is scheduled to continue to run at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport, CT, Saturdays at 12:00PM and 2:30PM and Sundays at 1:00PM and 3:30PM, through February 11, 2018. For tickets, please go to

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From This Author Sean Fallon