This summer, treat the children in your life to a charming new musical at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
The Adventures of Pinocchio has been given a new treatment in this musical version of one of childhood’s beloved stories. This is not the Disney version of Pinocchio, so you may want to look at the resources about the story and the play on Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s website before attending. This version draws from Carol Collodi’s original tales about the wooden puppet while leaving out the darker aspects of those tales and giving the audience an entertaining story with a great message.
This “Once Upon a Time” story is told to the audience by a Storyteller (played by Melody Betts) whose soothing tone and firm yet loving approach to Pinocchio provides the perfect environment for a child’s tale.
The songs, composed by Neil Bartram, are accompanied by an offstage orchestra. They are lively and enjoyable and, along with Rachel Rockwell’s choreography, add a new and entertaining aspect to an old tale.
Skyler Adams performs the role of Pinocchio with a bit of an edge to the puppet’s character (in keeping with the original tales) but still with a mixture of a child’s curiosity, mischievousness, and a growing awareness of himself, the world around him, and how he fits into that world. In spite of his flaws (or perhaps because of them), Pinocchio is as lovable as ever as he takes his journey to discovering what it means to be human.
This version of the story delivers a great message to children about the importance of the decisions one makes in life, but it wraps that message in such an entertaining package that children may not even realize they’re being taught a valuable life lesson.
At various points in the play, the audience is made a part of the story with the actors interacting with various audience members, which, of course, is always great fun for kids.
The Fox (played by Derek Hasenstab) and the Cat (played by Heidi Kettenring) are witty and comical as the two scam artists who are always leading Pinocchio into trouble. They have great fun with their roles, and the audience is made a part of the fun.
Don Forston’s Geppetto is a more well-rounded version of this character than the one you’ll find in the Disney tale, thus making him more interesting to watch. For those who attended last year’s The Emperor’s New Clothes at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Forston will be a familiar face – he was the Emperor.
You may be surprised to see that the Puppet Master (played by Ron Rains) has a more human side to him in this version of the story, and Dylan Saunders is appropriately naughty as Lampwick, the boy who refuses to learn and turns into a donkey.
Show times for this musical are as follows:
Thursday 11am and 2pm
Friday 11am and 2pm
Saturday 11am and 2pm
Sunday 11am and 2pm
Ticket prices are $18 for children (12 and under) and $23 for adults. Groups of 10 or more can buy tickets for $12 (children) and $18 (adults).
The Adventures of Pinocchio, directed by Rachel Rockwell runs for 75 minutes (no intermission) and can be enjoyed through August 28 at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. You can purchase tickets here and get directions and parking information.
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