Like most classic fairy tales, there are many versions of “Pinocchio.” But the latest stage version offered by the Pulaski Fine Arts Association strives to be fast-paced, fun and family friendly.
“(It’s) a thrilling comedy! You’ve got to see it!” said 9-year-old Jaime Welsh, who stars in the title role as a wooden puppet who strives to become a living boy.
Evening performances of the play, which opened last weekend, continue at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, June 21 and 22. A 2:30 p.m. matinee is scheduled for Sunday. All performances take place at the Theatre on the Square in downtown Waynesville.
Written by William Glennon, this stage version of the classic story is a fast-paced farce, according to the play’s director, Shannon Shrum.
“It stays true to the essence of the original story — Pinocchio is a young boy who gets into mischief while trying to learn right from wrong, kindness, bravery and those kinds of things,” Shrum said. “That underlying theme is still there from the original, but the characters are very unique and outlandish, and it’s very fast paced with lots of scene changes. It is more of a tickle-your-funny-bone type of show.”
The 16-member cast began rehearsals the second week of April to bring the story to life.
Playing Pinocchio has been a lot of fun, according to Welsh, who has appeared in several school plays in the past but is making her community-theater debut with PFAA.
“Honestly, I did not think I was going to get the role — I was just trying out for fun,” Welsh said.
Ancle Evans plays Geppetto, the lonely toy builder who constructs Pinocchio. Krista Madden plays the Blue Fairy, who brings the wooden puppet to life and later teaches school for all the characters in the play. Stephen Woolsey plays the Fire Eater. Peter Elio James appears as the Policeman. Bob Hooper plays Antonio, who is Geppetto’s best friend. Ian Madden plays Candlewick. Talia Johnson appears as the Fox. Rachel Sherrod takes on the role of the Cat. Rhea Anne Mathews plays the Harlequin. Amanda Porter plays the puppet known as Miss Rose. Henry Westphall plays Punchinello. Alex Pellhum plays the villainous Clown. Rounding out the cast are Kaitlyn Harry, Destiny Mikell and Patience Warren, who play the three puppeteers.
PFAA, which self-rates their plays along the same lines as motion pictures, has rated this production G.
“It’s intended to be a family production,” Shrum said. “There’s a lot of humor and subtlety that younger children may not catch, but there’s nothing inappropriate or anything. The clown is the closest (character) we have that approaches anything close to scary — and he’s really more of a little creepy than scary.”
Tickets are $10 per person for adults and $5 for children ages 12 and younger. Advance tickets are available at the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau in St. Robert and Lone Oak Printing in Waynesville. Tickets are also available at the Theater on the Square box office prior to show times. Seating is limited and advance ticket purchases are recommended by PFAA.
For more information, visit the PFAA website at www.pfaa-tots.com.