Pros: An enchanting story that grows stronger as time passes.
Cons: Disappointingly weak songs and a clipped production that feels strangely rushed on occasion.
Once again The British Theatre Academy has teamed up with Ambassadors Theatre to produce a showcase for young and emerging stage talent. For anyone who’s just left a monastery, The Adventures of Pinocchio tells the story of a lonely toymaker called Geppetto who, grieving for the loss of his wife, carves Pinocchio out of wood. A wooden puppet, he yearns to be a real boy and begins to explore the world in search of adventure.
Whilst Pinocchio should make ideal material for a musical, the songs never quite hit the mark and lacked substance as they breezed in, out, and around the plot without much conviction. The score felt instantly familiar as a doodling piano was seemingly itching to play One from A Chorus Line. The design was bright and clean with sound choreography; Pinocchio’s nose was also a clever piece of kit, extending smoothly when necessary and leaving me wondering how it was operated. Although a solid production, it seemed strangely condensed (running for around 70 minutes) and ended at the point where other shows take their interval. It was like being served a starter and not having it followed up with a main course. I always expect something much more expansive when a musical is on the stage. Although the short running time was probably due to the younger target audience, it still felt like something was missing.
Happily, the cast were the show’s saving grace and I was impressed by their energy, commitment and natural ability. However, with such young performers and obvious legal restrictions, the producers had to use a large rotating cast, making individual performers impossible to pick out from stamp-sized photographs in the programme. Nevertheless, they all performed magnificently and brimmed with confidence throughout the production. The British Theatre Academy has again proved that there is a conveyor belt of talent waiting to take their bow.
Original Story: Carlo Collodi
Book: Brian Hill
Music & Lyrics: Neil Bartram
Director: Bronagh Lagan
Music Associates: James Taylor and Philip Shute
Choreographer: Anthony Whiteman
Producer: Matthew Chandler-Garcia on behalf of The British Theatre Academy
Box Office: 0207 395 5405
Booking Link: https://www.theambassadorstheatre.co.uk/online/default.asp?doWork::WScontent::loadArticle=Load&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::article_id=F7909A72-C5A5-4180-A95F-C4B3D7F8E707#
Booking Until: 30 August 2017