When Chicago Shakespeare Theater premieres “The Adventures of Pinocchio” as part of its Family Series this summer, you won’t find a stage version of the Disney movie. According to Creative Producer Rick Boynton, the company will turn its Courtyard Theater stage into a larger-than-life Old World marionette theater for this new musical adaptation. Considering that Carlo Collodi’s classic tale tells the story of a wooden puppet who longs to be a boy, the use of puppetry makes perfect sense.
In development, Boynton and the rest of the creative team found themselves asking, “What is it about puppets that Pinocchio doesn’t want to be?”
By staging the show among the inner workings of a puppet theater, they could explore the relationship of puppet master to puppet. Likewise, the audience experiences seamless shifts from live actors portraying Geppetto and Pinocchio to different kinds of puppets taking over the storytelling.
“Some of the play is better told through puppets. We hope to draw audiences in and then transition to live actors,” says Boynton.
When deciding on shows for the Family Series, CST looks for stories that are familiar to families, but also worth exploring anew. In the case of “Pinocchio,” Boynton says, “The original book has a bit of a dark quality, but still with a bit of playfulness. We’ve incorporated both sides.” The production will keep Collodi’s series of vignettes, allegorical tales in which Pinocchio learns lessons about obeying his father and doing the right thing.
Boynton says the show will be enjoyable for both children and adults.
“Theater that is appropriate and good for children must be the same for adults. It needs to work on many levels,” he says.
With the excellent team assembled and the history of success for CST’s Family Series, “The Adventures of Pinocchio” is sure to be this summer’s “don’t miss” family show.