Carlo Collodi’s classic Italian tale of the little wooden puppet that wanted to become a real boy comes to life this summer in a musical adaption for the entire family titled “Pinocchio: An Americana Folktale.” Performances will take place on Fridays through Aug. 8 at the Quaking Aspen Amphitheater at River Run Village in Keystone.
“In keeping with our 20th anniversary theme at LDTC, an exploration of the American journey, our version of the classic tale of Pinocchio has been reinvigorated with a fresh Americana feel,” said Tim Pare, Lake Dillon Theatre Company director of education, who also directs and choreographs the production.
Pare said this production still leaves the original tale intact, but some changes have taken place to give the show new life.
“Some classic characters have been updated,” Pare said. “Our villain is a comical fisherman with an appetite for mermaids and puppets, who prefers his gumbo on the spicy side. The whale who swallows Gepetto and Pinocchio has been replaced by an even more terrifying creature from the marshes. And the Blue Fairy has become the Blue Gypsy, reminiscent of a maternally mystic spirit carefully watching over Pinocchio’s journey.”
Creating the adapatation
Chris Alleman, Lake Dillon Theatre Company producing artistic director, adapted “Pinocchio: An Americana Folktale” from Collodi’s original serial series, and LDTC executive director Joshua Blanchard created the music and lyrics for the original score.
“We wanted to tell an updated version of this story that American audiences would appreciate and enjoy,” Alleman said. “We were influenced by early 20th-century traditions from the South: telling tall tales, exaggerating the truth, traveling medicine men and their false cures and using metaphors to teach a lesson.”
“The music is very fun and upbeat,” Blanchard said. “The score is really a mix of hillbilly, bluegrass, New Orleans-style jazz and even an Anglo-Irish ballad-style lullaby that the Blue Gypsy sings to Pinocchio.”
Returning Lake Dillon Theatre Company member Frank Sansone (“Golden!,” “Xanadu”) is joined by Jimmy Bain as Pinocchio, William Bellamy as Gepetto, Justina Ercole and Diane Huber. All five performers can also be seen in “Big River” and “Sweet Charity” as part of the 2014 Lake Dillon Theatre Company summer theater season.
Revival for everyone
This summer marks the second time the Lake Dillon Theatre Company has produced “Pinocchio: An Americana Folktale” and also only the second time the show has ever been presented anywhere.
“We first wrote this musical in 2008 for the joint Keystone Neighbourhood Co. production in River Run,” Alleman said. “Of all the family musicals we have written and presented over the years, this one is still one of my very favorites because it is such a fun journey for the kids to take with Pinocchio. When we were thinking about what premise or new family show would fit into this season’s theme of American journeys, no new ideas could top Pinocchio. So we decided to bring it back for another terrific run.”
Maja Russer, Keystone Neighbourhood Co. director of events and marketing, said her organization was excited to partner with Lake Dillon Theatre Company for another summer of Kidtopia Kids Theater in Keystone.
“Taking in Lake Dillon’s rendition of Pinocchio this summer is a perfect way to spend your Friday morning with the kiddos while visiting the High Country,” she said.
LDTC’s Pare said the production will appeal to the whole family.
“Those of you who have grown up with the beloved tale of Pinocchio will appreciate both the nostalgia of the tale and this fresh take on the classic story,” he said. It’s “a story of morality, family and self-perception.”