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Christmas is the perfect time for a family trip to the theatre. If you are looking for something charming and funny, with a generous sprinkle of magic and a big warm heart then Pinocchio at The Old Rep is the ideal show for you. Although the show is not about Christmas it has an emphasis on family values and thinking of others which is a wonderful message for this time of year.
The Old Rep is in a fantastic location tucked behind New Street Station. You can make a day of it and visit the German Market and do some Christmas shopping. Pricing of the shows is really reasonable costing £19 for the stalls and £16 for the balcony, which really isn’t much more than a trip to the cinema.
We were so excited to see Pinocchio. Although we know the classic Carlo Collodi story it is not one that gets endless versions every year so it felt really fresh. As you enter there is music from the wind up organ playing which instantly starts to transport you back in time. It is well worth buying the programme as there are so many activities inside for the children to do, including colouring, mazes and a wordsearch as well as fascinatin g background information about the show.
The heart of the show is lonely Geppetto, who is too generous to make any money. It is his desire for a son and the power of his imagination which turns a lump of wood into an animated boy. Geppetto played by Ralph Birtwell is so funny and sympathetic you can’t help but warm to him and become invested in his fate.
One of the things I particularly loved about the show was how three clowns from Geppetto’s workshop link all the stories with their cheeky antics. They are used to great effect to create the magic in the show, including bringing Pinocchio to life and when his nose starts to grow. There is a knowing wink to the audiene when they do this, yet somehow it contributes to the magic. We loved the song scene change where the clowns and the Blue Fairy mess about chnging the scene.
I was so curious how Pinocchio would be portrayed on stage. The casting of the adorable Holly Sayer is perfect. She moves like she is made from wood. She is impetuous and perky and you can’t help hoping Pinocchio will get his wish and become a real boy. The morals behind the original story are really heavy handed for modern audiences, however this retelling has a much lighter touch and this is mainly through the character of Pinocchio. While he is gullible and easily mislead you always feel his motives are pure, he wants to help his father and become a real boy.
The songs from Steve Allan Jones are real crowd pleaser. My favourite was the Think Blue song which talks about the power of imagination. We loved all the characters, and didn’t realise the talented Ensemble are played by BOA, Birmingham Ormiston Academy who are all aged between 14-19 until we read the Programme. The Blue Fairy played Daisy Ann Fletcher is hilarious, she is delightfully down to earth and frustrated with Pinocchio, especially when he doesn’t realise what animal she is disguised as. We loved the way she sprinkles her sparkly fairy dust, almost like an after thought.
Charlotte was so excited to get the meet the cast after the show. We felt so joyful and uplifted walking home and with a timely reminder of the power of imagination, the importance of family and working hard and of course that you should never tell lies, unless you want your nose to grow.
Pinocchio is on until 30th December
BSL Performance: FRIDAY 28 DECEMBER (1PM)
RELAXED PERFORMANCE: SATURDAY 15 DECEMBER (1PM)
Here you can meet the cast of the show.
Disclaimer: We were given three tickets to see the show for the purposes of this review.