The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Pinocchio
Organization Sutter Street Theatre
Date(s) of show October 25 - November 23, 2014
Reviewer Gerry Camp

Everybody knows the story of Pinocchio, the puppet who wanted to become a real boy. Well, probably everybody knows the Disney version, with his loving father Geppetto, his “conscience” Jiminy Cricket, and the Blue Fairy. Some of us, curious about the real story, have read the original by Carlo Collodi, written as a serial and published in Italy in 1883, an immediate bestseller. You may not be surprised to know that the Disney version omitted much of the original story.

The version of the story by Kathryn Schultz Miller that opened at Sutter Street Theatre as part of its Family Series takes a very different approach to the story. It has many of the elements of the two previous versions, the kindly woodcarver Geppetto, (played with heart-warming sentiment by Paul Greisen) who carves the puppet from a magically talking piece of wood; the Blue Fairy, (in this version we get two fairies—Lisa Matta as Blue Fairy and Kayla Wood as Lucky Star); and certainly the whale, a shark in the original. Lisa, by the way, is the mom of the other four Mattas in the cast.

And of course the hero of the piece, Pinocchio himself, the talking puppet who can’t seem to behave and whose nose grows longer when he tells a lie. Yes, you get to see his nose actually grow! Pinocchio is Joshua Matta, a very talented actor and dancer, who is perfect in the part.

I can’t forget another favorite Sutter Street performer, Amanda Ramos, as the talking cricket who protects and tries to advise the wayward puppet. Ramos almost steals the show as the delightful “conscience,” inviting the audience to participate as the plot unfolds. Her character is Hickory Cricket, a real charmer who is much more fun than Disney’s Jiminy. There is a talking cricket in the original, but if you want to know its fate you’ll have to go to the book.

The major difference in the plot of this version is that it is told as a puppet show. Brian Boyle is intimidating as Lorenzo Magnifico, the puppet master, who has his own troupe of talking puppets. The two most prominent members of his cast are Macaroni (Cassie Hamilton) and Pepperoni (Rebekah Matta) who often seem to be helping the audience follow the story.

I won’t give away any of the other differences between this version and the previous two, leaving it for you to enjoy them as they occur. Part of the fun for the children in the audience is becoming part of the show itself. What makes the show a delight for all is the obvious delight the kids in the cast, directed to perpetual movement by Mike Jimena, are having throughout. Jimena, as always, brings out the best in the young performers, and he is also responsible for the sets including the terrifying whale.

And I must also mention the great work by resident costumer Eileen Beaver, who has again produced a stageful of beautiful, imaginative outfits for nineteen actors. Her green costume for Hickory Cricket really helps Ramos become the character.

If you want kids to learn to love theater, this is a show you must bring them to. It is great fun for adults, but is especially delightful for children, who will be enthralled from start to finish.

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