Sep 25, 2014

[Theater] Pinocchio (Repertory Philippines)

When I opted to get the bundle offer for all of Repertory Philippines' shows for the year, the one show that I wasn't particularly keen on was the annual children's musical that comes after the regular season for the straight plays. But since it was actually cheaper to get all 5 shows instead of just the other 4, I went for the bundle anyway.

Pinocchio turned out to be a completely different play than what I expected. It wasn't particularly great, but it certainly had a bit of an endearing charm on its own. And given this was my first exposure to how Repertory handles their children's show, it was also a bit of learning from a different perspective.

Do I plan on watching all Repertory Philippines' shows in the future? Perhaps not - I know when I'm not the target audience. But at least I now know that it's not exactly a horrible experience and I wouldn't mind taking on another deal like this even if it includes this sort of musical.

Synopsis: Pinocchio (this being the Prince Street Players' version of the show), is a musical with book and lyrics by Jim Elier. Elier also worked on the music together with Jeanne Bargy. This Repertory Philippines staging was directed by Joy Virata and runs from August 16 to December 14.

The show is opened by Antonio (James Stacey / Arnel Carrion / Nic Campos), a humble carpenter who introduces the audience to the little town he calls home and a number of the people who live there. We eventually meet Geppetto (Miguel Faustmann / Oliver Usison / Nic Campos), a puppet maker who only dreams of having a child of his own. But of course he feels that he is too old to find a wife, and so he has instead devoted all his efforts to his puppets, including creating a life-size puppet of a young boy.

Because he offered kindess to a stranger, the Blue Fairy (Liesel Batucan / Christine Flores / Cara Barredo) decides to partly grant his wish by bringing the puppet to life. Thus is born Pinocchio (Noel Comia / Albert Silos / Andee Achacoso / Guido Gatmaytan / Daniel Drilon / Sofia Wong), who is still a puppet made of wood, but one that can walk and talk and sing and dance. Despite the strangeness of the transformation, Geppetto is delighted by Pinocchio joining his little family unit together with Angelina (Ring Antonio / Natalie Everett / Bituin Escalante / Goldie Soon) the maid / cook. But as we all know, Pinocchio has a lot to learn about life before he can prove to the Blue Fairy that he's ready to become a real boy.

First up, I rather liked the choice of musical more because of its treatment than the play itself. They made things a little more dynamic than normal given the very first entrance of a character starts with the audience and there are a lot of moments where audience participation is pretty much required. From the very beginning we already had to try to learn a song - one that got stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Sure, they could have pushed this aspect of the show more in more of the scenes, but in the end it was still pretty fun.

Now either the audience participation aspect to things really helped get the kids in the audience in the right mood or perhaps they were just a weird audience - either way things were rather quiet. This was a good thing since noisy kids would have tried my patience severely. But it was also kind of sad since you expected the kids to be a lot more excited about things - I feel there were missed opportunities here.

The play actually felt a little jerky in terms of the narrative - like there were bits that had been skipped over in the interests of time or perhaps because they were potentially sensitive in nature when it comes to younger audiences. Either way, there were moments that felt particularly short. Good examples of this include the scene inside the whale, the scene with Signore Volpone (Jef Flores / Chris George Schulze / Only Torres) and Signore Gatto (Chino Veguillas / Steven Hotchkiss / Kendrick Ibasco), and perhaps all scenes in Act II. Then again, I suppose they didn't want to prolong things in order to keep the kids interested.

I did not certain costumes in the show though. Pinocchio was particularly well-done - I loved how that turned out. And the different dancers in the Land of Toys were absolutely brilliant - they all seemed like potential Doctor Who villains, in a manner of speaking. So yeah, there were still a lot of fun bits for older members of the audience.

Pinocchio is still a fun little children's musical that should still provide fair entertainment for the whole family. It's a little shallow for adults and rather heavy-handed in terms of morals when it comes to the kids but on the whole it makes for a nice production. The show gets 3 instances of Pinocchio being led astray out of a possible 5.

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