|photo: Skye Fallon/VYT|
Click here for more information on this production that runs through February 21st.
Walk in to the Valley Youth Theatre auditorium on North First Street and you might find yourself checking the date on your ticket stub. No set. No actors. Just an empty stage with the exception of some scaffolding positioned upstage, a few painters’ materials lying around, and a single, stark worker’s lamp to help you see. ...The device that this energetic young VYT ensemble uses is to have those painters re-enact Pinocchio’s story themselves....It’s a terrific setup ...It’s playing pretend, which is what children do all the time...Israel Jimenez, taking on his VYT directorial duties for the first time, directs a fine and large young ensemble to tell this original though lesser known version of the badly behaved Pinocchio who tends to tell lies....Taylor Davis is a stand-out as Gepetto, Lily Gosar is a ball of playful fun as the Cricket, Rachel Eroh adds weight and a sense of maturity to the devious Fox, Corey Hawk delivers just the right amount of mischievous quality to Pinocchio without making the character’s naughtiness overbearing, and Audra Hoover, appearing in her first VYT production, anchors the whole affair doubling as the painter’s foreman and the Fairy. ... echoes the time honored traditions of improv where actors take a theme and appear to be making things up on the spot. For the most part it works well, though during some of those early moments where things are being established, the appearance of youngsters trying to figure out what’s going on and why there’s an audience watching them comes across as perhaps a little too lose; it lacks the discipline of experience to fully pull off....even though things may feel a little uncomfortably shaky at the start, the end result is exactly why audiences go to VYT in the first place; for an imagination to be fired. " -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)
"...Pinocchio, Greg Banks' fairly new theatrical adaptation of Carlo Collodi's story, is a faithful retelling of the story of carpenter Geppetto and the boy he creates out of wood. Banks uses a story-within-a-story structure and plenty of imagination to bring the magical, fun, and heartwarming story to life. Even though there are a few shortcomings in this adaptation, Valley Youth Theatre's production has a talented cast of young performers who instill the story with humor and heart. ...Banks takes a group of painters, who are in the theatre getting ready to paint it for an upcoming production, and turns them into storytellers who portray the characters in Collodi's children's novel "The Adventures of Pinocchio." They use the materials, equipment, and supplies they have on hand to paint the theatre to recreate the famous scenes and moments in this tale of a wooden puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy....the show does take a few extra beats to get going and also lags in points. There are also numerous moments of audience interaction that prolong the story and are repetitive. ...most younger audience members are sure to enjoy the creative touches the play and this production use to tell this beloved story. Even with the few quibbles, it is charming and funny, and the ending is moving and heartwarming....As Pinocchio, Corey Hawk does well as an obnoxious, rambunctious, and somewhat ungrateful boy. Yet, after Pinocchio takes the wrong path, Hawk effectively shows us how Pinocchio has learned his lesson and makes an optimistic change in his look on life. Taylor Davis is sturdy and strong as Gepetto. The fact that Davis is a woman adds another layer to the portrayal and shows that it doesn't matter what gender (or even age) one is—anyone can tell a story if they know what they are doing. ...Valley Youth Theatre's Pinocchio uses everyday items and a small talented ensemble to create stage magic. While I have a few reservations about this adaptation, VYT's production proves to be a fun and upbeat exercise in the power of imagination in storytelling." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)