StoryBook Theater’s Pinocchio is refreshing take on a classic story. I had doubts about my children taking to the story – we have never actually watched the classic Disney movie because I always found it to be a little too gloomy – but this adaptation shines and the cast delivers a jubilant adventure.
My anxiety about accompanying my loud-mouthed three and five-year-old children to a play was quelled when I realized that these productions cater to the wiggly enthusiasm of young theatergoers (founded in 1998, StoryBook specializes in original, interactive musicals written especially for 3-10-year-olds).
After being greeted by musical director Susan Bardsley, who went over simple theater etiquette, the audience met the Blue Fairy (Shoshauna Mohlman), whose singing narrated a music-filled adventure. Both Gepetto (Josh Ryder) and Pinocchio (Abby Eagleson) captured the slapstick humor and all-around silliness that children adore.
Storybook knows how to engage its audience. Throughout the 55-minute show, children were invited to shout out answers and dance along to songs. Cast members even asked a few audience members to join them on-stage as marionette dancers. My kids most enjoyed the dynamic of the dim-witted Cat (Sarah Russell) and the cunning fox (Rachel Wilkie), whose comedic shenanigans induced consistent giggles.
I was a little worried about how the play would handle the darker parts of the story — especially the scene where Gepetto is swallowed by a creature in the sea. In an astute move by the director, the audience was given the task of acting out the churning waves and pretending to be the shark, resulting in no tears but plenty of laughter.
Lively harmonies and energetic dancing kept the kids enthralled and made the hour pass quickly. The lesson on the importance of honesty, as well Pinocchio’s song about learning to navigate his feelings and “being real” struck a chord with my kids, who sometimes struggle to articulate their own emotions.
Afterward, audience members were invited to ask questions of the cast, who stayed to sign the programs.
This production is highly recommended for preschool and elementary school-aged children age three and older. Parents and caregivers as well will find much to like.
If you go ...
When and where: StoryBook Theater's Pinocchio plays for 12 more performances: Feb. 9–10 at Kirkland Performance Center, March 3 at the Everett PUD Auditorium and March 10 at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center in Seattle. Shows are 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. The Feb. 10 show is ASL-interpreted.
Tickets and info: Tickets are $10 each; buy online at storybooktheater.org. Tickets are selling quickly so if you know you'd like to go, snap them up!
Ages: It's recommended for ages 3 and up.
Rory is a slightly neurotic mom to three young children and an intern at Parentmap. She recently taught herself to play the accordion through Youtube videos and can often be found hiding from her kids in the closet while eating chocolate chips (which she aspires to bake something with but never does). Her perfect day would include a trip to a local beach with her children, taco truck tacos for dinner, and roasting marshmallows around a campfire with friends. You can see more of her musings about parenting at ParanoidStayAtHomeMom.