Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to see the performance with my family in exchange for an honest review of the performance. I received no other compensation, and all opinions remain my own. Photo credits (except of my kids) to Brandon Dahlquist Photography, Amy Boyle Photography and The Marriott Theatre.
This past Sunday, I took my family to one of my favorite local theater, to see Pinocchio at the Marriott Theatre (yep, Theatre not Theater). Periodically, they offer theater productions for young audiences, and I have long been a huge fan of taking my children to see these performances that are designed for children.
What makes this different? To start, these performances are always at 10am, which doesn’t interfere with naptime. We are past that point, thankfully, but seeing a play early in the day when the wee ones are freshest is always a good idea. They are better able to sit and pay attention, and no one hungry or cranky means I’m less stressed as a parent trying to enjoy the production myself. The plays are also always about an hour in length, which is great for young attention spans.
Did I mention that the tickets are supremely affordable at $17.23 per person (inclusive of taxes) for a high quality production? Often, we’ll go see these productions with a group of friends, as group rates are available starting with 20 people, and we’ve never had a problem convincing friends to join us, which makes the play even more affordable.
My favorite part of the production, however, is the question and answer after the play is over. The actors (there were only eight in the entire production – I’m constantly amazed at the range of characters each actor plays) come back on stage and sit down to answer questions from the audience. Sometimes they’re silly like an actor’s favorite color (orange, in case you were wondering) or more technical like how Pinocchio turns into a real boy. It’s a great way to engage kids and help them gain interest in the theater. And when my kids get called on to ask a question in that 10 minute period? They beam for days.
The production of Pinocchio is running from July 1 until August 2 and runs most Wednesdays and Sundays at 10am. You can check out the exact schedule and purchase tickets via the Mariott Theatre website.
This production follows the general storyline of the Pinocchio we’ve all grown up knowing and loving. There were some parts that were glossed over while others were blown out more. This is the first time I’d really heard about and met Geppetto’s wife, and my kids admitted to being sad when they heard that she died. She simply walked off the stage, and Geppetto (Jarrodd Zimmerman) was sad with the explanation that his wife had died, but it was definitely more at the forefront than any production I’d seen previously.
Stromboli (Jeff Max), the owner of the show who wants to purchase Pinocchio (Andrew Spatafora) for his act. He is a hilarious bad guy, and kids found him entertaining and full of bluster rather than scary in any way. His main act – Fox (Devin DeSantis) and Kitty (Laura Savage) are tired of performing for him and want to open their own show, so scheme to steal Pinocchio. They are a hilarious pair that my children are still talking about. Their songs and dance are catchy and play so well off the characters themselves.
Of course, Pinocchio still has his conscience of Hopper (George Keating) – G. Hopper, short for Gordon – who does his best to help him along the way in his nervous and bumbling fashion. He’s absolutely adorable, and it’s no surprise that he’s in charge of collecting the audience questions at the end. His overacting is absolutely perfect for the character, and the audience loved him.
The Blue Fairy (Dara Cameron) is as sweet as she’s ever been, and she’s there to rescue Pinocchio and grant Geppetto’s wish. She plays well off the other characters, and her incantations are the magic needed to allow much of the behind the scenes magic to happen.
We walked out of the theater smiling. The theater in the round experience is always a bonus at the Marriott Theatre, as there is no bad seat in the house. My kids were glued to their seats, and their eyes glowed as we left. It had been over a year since the last time we’d ventured to a Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences production, but we’ll be back again soon thanks to this reminder. Seussical is coming in November, and I’m pretty sure I have some friends who would love to join us for this!