Creative Cauldron’s Learning Theater Workshop is an excellent program for children interested in exploring the art of live theater. The program is recommended for kids, third grade through high school, and provides professional performers, who mentor the young actors through the rehearsal process and the run of the show. For their fall session, The Learning Theater’s Ensemble worked on an original interpretation of the story of Pinocchio.
The Adventures of Pinocchio was written by Carlo Collodi and first published as a series in the paper from 1881-1882. It is from this version, and not the more widely known 1940 Disney film, Pinocchio, that the workshop took as the basis for their production. A team of Directors worked to create the adaptation: Laura Connors Hull and Ellen Selby created the book, Matt Conner composed original music, and Stephen Gregory Smith provided the lyrics. Through their collaboration, along with improve activities with the students, which were set within the confines of Collodi’s original tales, the group created a new adaptation of Pinocchio.
I went to see Creative Cauldron’s 2nd premiere of this production with my family, and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. The original music was beautiful, and the set and costumes were simple, yet creative. My three boys all thought it was incredibly cute and especially raved about the imaginative way that the actors created the shark that plays a vital part in the tale.
Each of the kids involved in the production did a wonderful job. Some standout favorites were Puppet Pinocchio, played by Caden Mitchell, who was equals parts adorable and mischievous, Nora Hill as the Cricket, who had my boys cackling quite frequently, and Libby Brooke’s Snail, who illustrated with perfection the art of milking a scene.
Appearing as the poor, kind-hearted Gepetto is E. Augustus Knapp, the only adult in the production. Knapp conveys the pure, unwavering love Gepetto has for Pinocchio making his performance simple but perfect for this production.
Some other notables were the hilarious puppets, Harlequin and Punchinello, played by Morgan Beltson and Constance Meade respectively who both greatly captured the physicality of puppets on strings. The conniving Cat (Emma Hill), and Fox (Hazel Feldstein), were appropriately cunning and creepy. And the beautiful Blue Haired Fairy, who sees the good in Pinocchio despite his many missteps, was played by Maia Vollen.
Everyone in this hard working, talented ensemble deserves to be mentioned, though. So, also appearing in this fun production, were Owen Theibert, Madeline Aldana, Adam Batchelor_Riera, Miri Brooke, Emily Martin, Amira Miller-Muro, Alessandra Simons-Robles, Gabriela Simons-Robles, Leif Trejo Hernandez, Marissa Seiken, Champe Mitchell, Madeleine Aykens, Talia Cutler, Emma Coleman, and Nicholas Riehm.
By nature of Creative Cauldron’s Learning Theater Workshop, Pinocchio is a show that can be seen over and over again, with a different experience every time. Part of the learning process for the young actors is for them to be able to adapt to change and to grow and improve in a performance. The audience was told that after each performance the actors will get notes that are to be incorporated into the next performance. It’s a lot of work but an amazing experience for the kids involved and the audience, who gets to experience the collective output of all of their hard-work, imagination, and creativity.
Running Time: 70 minutes, with no intermission.
Pinocchio plays through November 22, 2015 at Creative Cauldron at Art Space Falls Church – 410 S Maple Avenue, Suite 116, in Falls Church, VA. For tickets, call (703) 436-9948, or purchase them online.