Little Waltham Drama Group                                      Pinocchio          by John Morley              January 1996

Pinocchio lends itself very well as a subject for a Family Entertainment. There is a reasonable story line, opportunity for goodies arid baddies, and also scope for the effects departments. I had not seen it before, so I came to it fresh. (Of course I had road the script twice!)

Presentation.

Set / Furniture               The sets were good. The skilled backcloth painters were well within their limits and the village scene was very good also the inside of the whale. I liked the painting of the puppet stall/shop (though there did seem to be missing a curtain at one pin point, as the fireeater camp right up to ,:There we could see Gepetto sleeping and announced he was not there, Furniture was minimal which is right as with a show like this there is not really time to sit down.

Costumes `These were very good particularly Pinocchio's and fir. Cricket's and Gepetto's, which helped the characterisations so much. The others were good and gave considerable contrast, the baddies being mostly in black and the fairy was all silver (or so it s caned in the lights though she was called the Blue Fairy)

Make up       This was exceptionally good. That of Pinocchio, Mr Cricket, Mr Fox and Sly Cat, together with the puppets took us into another sphere.

Lighting This was complicated at times and was not always on cue. In the scene with Gepetto, the Blue Fairy and Mr Cricket and the 'noses'. Very difficult I know but by Saturday night it still seemed a bit ragged.    The atmosphere inside the Whale was good, also the strobe worked well. It is so effective when not over­powering and did not go on too long.

Sound effects            These always add enormously to what goes on on the stage. I felt there were one or two opportunities lust, but, what there were ware effective.

Production

Interpretation                It is very much a show for the family and must be played as a fairy tale. This you manager; very well, The characters who. were good were not feeble, and the baddies of which there were more than usual were pantomime in style which worked well. Pinocchio was outstanding as the innocent, and the rest of the cast gave good support.

Grouping         This means how did the picture on the stage look at any one time and did each frame fade into the next. Almost always yes. You have considerable difficulty with space and you manage your sot pieces extremely wall, not helped by the change of level with the apron. I do commend you all as you use this change of height with great skill. One point, when the Fireeater had his song which he sang to Pincchio, he (the fireeater) was down stage of Pinocchio which meant he had to sing to P. upstage as he was menacing P. Pinocchio should have been DL the Fire eater Centre as the children's chorus was DR, this could have given the song much more impact as he could have sung out front and we would have heard the words better.

Movement        This was on the whole good within the confines of your tiny stage (it is only because I know how small it is that I mention it - those who don't know the area you work in would nut !_,e aware of the restrictions you weather well The stylised movement of Mr Fox and Sly Cat worked well, also the puppets on the strings were most effective.

 

Use of Stage           This I have already covered above. I always like exits and entrances through the hall in this kind of show, it enlarges your acting area so.

 

Entrances and exits                Entrances wore good particularly through the audience. Exits were good and purposeful, even if the gaps of only 18" wide ware available, UL and needed squeezing through, and never looked awkward Once or twice, particularly at the beginning A were a bit late, an" the first; half eras I thought a bit held up.

 

Teamwork        This was particularly good at moments when lots of people were on stage. I liked the duo of Mr Fox and Sly Cat very much.

 

Pace         This was not good in the first half, I Felt it needed speeding up a bit. Its difficult I know as the story has to be told, but it did net `'low quite so well as the second half, maybe its in tie writing?        The first scene is inordinately long:

 

Musical Numbers

An interesting overture of medleys from many sources From Snow White to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, etc, This was not too  long which was good, but the When you wish upon a star behind curtains with full chorus way rather long I thought - I was dying to see what was going on or-, stage. When the curtains came up it was the puppets in a strobe light. A slightly off beat start. Be back soon by the children with ARC books tins a very good number, everyone seemed to be enjoying it, and the show woke: up. Very good exit hero with the last child leaving the stage as the last note of the song was sung. Gepetto sang Little Wooden head with eyes that; shine. This got some laughs as he accompanied the song with an automatic puppet which some people thought funny:

Next came the joyful I've got no strings by Pinocchio and strong chorus participation. Mr Cricket's Give a little whistle worked well with audience participation (certainly different in this show - the audience always ready to participate with shouting back chat, or whistling and later blowing again the villagers got involved. All this in scene 1: There was not quite enough music to cover the scene change - you must have enough - always be ready to fade array when the curtain goon up, but YOU got stuck with just chords;

Heigh diddly doe an actor's life for me worked well it is a good rousing song to put across. Music from Chitty Bang Bang with the puppets who were really super.

Mr Fox and Sly Cat had the next number with 'Money makes the world go round'. This duo was excellent

The parody of the Judges song from Trial by Jury was very well sung. You do have to be very careful with a patter song like this that your diction is above average, its the words we want to hear and a^ they are new words they will. not be familiar even to me. I did not get all of them. Following the leader was fun (unfortunately the lighting at the end of this first half was a bit wrong and did not light up Gepetto Who came on to pick up the ABC -- book dropped by Pinocchio)

This is our once a year day, is a splendid song to open the second half, and have the chorus throwing sweets to the audience. Much enjoyed by everyone. Chase music from William Tell Overture worked very well, and visually it was excellent with the strobe.

We all stand together with almost a full chorus was good and soundly sung.

The finale worked extremely well and the energy seemed to be there till the curtain came down for the last time.

I do commend the producers for letting the content of the songs help the story and for not letting  , them be too long. I see from the script there were several spots where there could have been more music. You were wise to cut some things. The last night ended at, 10.15 which was good, The second half was considerably shorter than the first which. is as it should be. I do congratulate your musicians, they were a very good trio and accompanied very well, in were not obtrusive.

 

Actinq/Singing

Pinocchio       An excellent portrayal of the puppet. Your concentration throughout was exemplorary, it had to be to keep the gormless expression or was it just an innocent expression in repose and than react to everything that went on as if teeing it for the first time. Your appearance helped enormously, but this performance I fell will remain with me for some time.it was outstanding.

Gepetto A very sincere performance. A good man, but not feeble. You handled Pinocchio well, reacted with your friend Antonio, yet kept your distance with the crowds. Your appearance was very helpful, you looked just right.

 

Blue Fairy        I was not happy with your high heeled shoes. A fairy generally glides wheat. You cannot do this in heels. Dent be afraid to wave your wand a bit more freely. I felt your movements were a bit cramped. I liked the way you tackled the lines, they came over sincerely and well.        Its not; easy to make rhyming couplets sound good, hut do make them last till you exit., there is nothing to stop you moving towards the wings before your lines have finished and then you ore in the right position to no off,. Quickly

 

Mr. Cricket             An excellent performance. Yogi locked moron lions and used your make up to accentuate all you said. You also play to the audience so well end yet react to what is on stage. A most professional piece of acting,

 

Antonio (the Policeman) A good strong performance, here of a bit of a buffoon, run round by everyone. Good rapport with Gepetto, We much enjoyed the crazy foam.

Lampwick           You had a difficult part as you were really the go-between. With the 'real' people you could be naughty, but: with Pinocchio you had to be part of a duo and this you found a hit difficult. This is a production point really, and I felt your scenes with Pinocchio wore still growing, which was good. Do concentrate all the time on what is going on on the stage, you cannot look out into the audience to see who is there, this you did at least twice on Saturday night (you were not the only culprit:)

Mr Fox and 51y Cat A very good duo. From your entrance you lifted the whole into something else - quite what I'm not sure'. Gory good numbers, excellent movement splendid characterisation. I enjoyed you enormously. I loved your ghastly foot­wear, also the fish you nibbled and the chicken leg.

The Fireeater               You were I felt not altogether happy with this part, though you controlled the audience well. I have mentioned your positioning in your song, it was your scene, and you should have   bean centre stage and well up, dell in character all the time, and the audience reacted

 

Coachman A really horrid person, very much in the style of Robert Helpmann in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang gore, even though you kept on With the 'fly dears:' as Fagin does in Oliver. A god strong characterisation which got the audience going well

 

Ring Master A small part put over with some extraordinary lines.         You used the audience and cracked the whip.

 

Judge A necessary part in this story which you played well. "Jot much to do really except enjoy the part and your on song, which you did

 

Harlequin and Columbine Very well controlled standing still for ages, and then the movement absolutely in time. well done.

 

Mee Mee As with H and C very well controlled standing. It is not easy and you did it well. A lovely smile when allowed to, in the chorus. You three added enormously to the feel of the puppetry, which should be at the centre of the play. Well done.

 

Gepetto's cat A very good performance, unobtrusive, but often at Gepetto's feet. You moved about very well and were very cat like all the time, particularly near the end, upstage on the counter.

 

Circus characters                 You were some of you, a bit self conscious, and this possibly had not been rehearsed very much, but I enjoyed the small boy on his head.

Children's chorus A very well schooled chorus, lots of good movement and much involvement in the songs, and I liked particularly the head turning in the Judge's song.

Adult chorus A good back up for all the crowd scenes, and good movement throughout particularly in the Judge's song.

A most entertaining evening. I think you can be very pleased with yourselves. It is interesting to watch a group's progress over the years and yours is definitely on the up. Congratulations.

 

Rosanne Kirkpatrick January 1994