Pinocchio at the Playhouse

By on 22 July, 2019 in Art, Fun, Sandra Nickel with 0 Comments

Photo by Josh Carples

Last night I attended opening night at Cloverdale Playhouse’s The True Adventures of Pinocchio. I went expecting to see a staged version of the legendary animated Disney film.

What I found was much more akin to a Grimm’s fairy tale, complete with lying and cheating and killing and stealing. Not exactly what one would expect from a children’s show. And exactly the right tone to communicate the production’s important messages: You can make a fool of yourself, and the only way to be truly human is to care about what happens to others.

What I enjoyed:

A story that is surprisingly adult in many of its references and messages; that contains as many sight gags as spoken funnies; that entertains on multiple levels. It’s a production that’s packed with so much fun and physicality that you find yourself wondering where in the world the players found all that energy!

A cast of 17 talented people, ages 8 to 67, who (like the familiar child’s toy) “transform” themselves into a total of nearly 55 characters. Other than Pinocchio, all the other cast members are playing four to six characters each. Particularly notable:

  • Jason Grinstead, a 12-year-old who performs at the level of someone at least twice his age. Jason absolutely inhabits the Pinocchio character, partly with the aid of clever makeup and mostly with his sheer talent and joy in the role.
  • George Jacobsen, whose volunteer docent job as a puppeteer at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts renders him ideal to portray the puppeteer father of Pinocchio (among others). He makes you feel deeply the frustration and heartbreak a loving parent must experience bringing up a wayward child.
  • John Sluis, who absolutely disappears (although clearly visible!) into the role of the Talking Cricket.
  • Graecen Burns (Fox) and Piper Doyle (Cat), Pinocchio’s nemeses and villains you just can’t help but love.

Costumes, designed and executed by Beth Shephard and a team of volunteers, which in many instances, enable cast members to become other than human – and in a most enjoyable way. I was particularly taken with the Tuna and Dolphin!

A set, designed by J. Scott Grinstead, painted by Sarah Kay, and executed by a team of volunteers, on par with what you’d see on Montgomery’s professional stages, the Festival and the Octagon at our own Alabama Shakespeare Festival Theater. As I have a talented brother who used to build sets for the leading children’s theater in Dallas, I know how much time, talent and dedication went into building the scenery and creating al the precious props—especially the marionettes hanging about!

And what I learned was that The True Adventures of Pinocchio is NOT a “children’s show.” It is a show that most any fun-loving child and/or adult will relish. And it’s a show you will want to kick yourself should you not see it for yourself!

Sandra Nickel has been listing and selling residential real estate for over 30 years, most with an intense focus on Montgomery’s Midtown neighborhoods. Sandra serves on the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, the Cloverdale Business Coalition, Historic Southview, the Volunteer and Information Center, Landmarks Foundation and her own neighborhood Garden District Preservation Association.








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