Pinocchio’s Adventures are Dark and Beautifully Costumed
Directed by Sheila McCarthy, The Adventures of Pinocchio is a fast-moving musical at Young People’s Theatre in Toronto. This beloved classic by Carlo Collodi is cleverly produced, and it is darker and more eerie than the Disney version. After being carved out of by wood by Gepetto (Shawn Wright), Pinocchio (Connor Lucas) rejects the idea of effort, responsibility and learning his ABCs. Instead, he leaves his kind father and joins mischievous Lampwick (Noah Beemer) on his misadventures, while the Blue Fairy (Malindi Ayienga) intermittently watches over him.
Thanks to the Blue Fairy’s basket of noses, Pinocchio’s nose grows with each fib. She just sticks a magnetized nose attachment to Pinocchio’s mask, which I found to be quite ingenious. His nose always stays intact, even when quite long due to multiple lies. Compliments to costume designer Joanna Yu for the seamless transitions.
As for other costumes, one of my little guests loved the Blue Fairy’s dress. It’s in a magnificent shade of royal blue and has swirls of light that shine in the dark. What’s more, her dress turns into waves of water during a storm, when other characters pull out blue sashes from her waist. Suddenly, the stage becomes a fantastic ocean thanks to this awesome costume.
Another whimsical element — again related to Yu’s costumes — is the huge fish that preys upon both Gepetto and Pinocchio. Five or six actors portray the head, scales and tail, and they swish around the water and effectively envelop the two characters. Amazing costume work again!
While the inventive costumes, strong acting, and sprightly choreography are admirable in Pinocchio, there is one thing that could be improved in my opinion. The music is simply too loud, even for my grown-up ears. I noticed a small girl in front of us who was covering her ears for much of the time. The thunderous volume makes the play quite scary, especially considering that a big chunk of the production features a few menacing meanies like the Puppet Master (Jacob MacInnis), Fox (Joel Cumber) and Cat (Arinea Hermans).
As for the age recommendation, I personally don’t think that ages 5 and up is appropriate, especially if your young theatre-goer gets creeped out easily. I’m wondering if it’s more suitable for kids at least 7 or 8. I was with three adults and four children in total, and much of the play was spent consoling the younger ones who climbed into parental laps. The loud volume, barely lit stage and threatening characters make Pinocchio not as family-friendly as I wish it were. While kids can be reminded that bad things happen in life, I don’t want them to be so frightened that they stop enjoying the show.
- The Adventures of Pinocchio is playing until January 5 at Young People’s Theatre (Front St.)
- Shows run Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:15 AM and 1 PM; Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:15 AM
- More shows on Dec. 8, Dec. 14, Dec. 21, Dec. 22, Dec. 26, Dec. 28, Dec. 30, Dec. 31, Jan. 3 and Jan. 5 at 2:30 PM
- Show on Dec. 15 at 11 AM and 2:30 PM
- Shows on Dec. 7, Dec. 27, Dec. 29, Jan. 2 and Jan. 4 at 1 PM and 4 PM and on Dec. 20 at 7 PM
- Relaxed performances on Dec. 13 at 10:15 AM and Dec. 14 at 2:30 PM
- Audio described performance on Dec. 15 at 2:30 PM (touch tour at 1 PM) and Dec. 17 at 10:15 AM
- Ticket prices range from $10 to $54
- Tickets are available online, by phone at 416-862-2222 or in person at the box office
Photo of Connor Lucas and Malindi Ayienga by Cylla von Tiedemann