The Little Theatre of Fall River's current show is "Pinocchio" a musical fantasy. It is an original musical adaptation by Tom Marcello and Al Deston of Italian short stories written in the 1880's by Carlo Collodi that told the magical tale of a talking wooden puppet that becomes a real boy. This musical version with book by Tom Marcello and music and lyrics by Al Deston was first presented in 1989 at Case High School and Roger Williams College. In this show Pinocchio becomes a real boy when he learns how to love and care for others. An enchantress watches over Geppeto and Pinocchio, helping them to overcome all the adversities they face by sending a talking cricket called Cocodrillo. Pinocchio meets many colorful characters during his many adventures including other puppets, street urchins, Stromboli, (an evil puppeteer) a sly fox Baptista and his cunning cat wife Philomena. Director Jeff Belanger chooses a talented 23 member cast to pull off this clever and entertaining family tale.
Jeff is aided in this task by Al Deston as musical director and pianist. His gorgeous songs include lovely ballads as well as some jazzy up tempo dance numbers. (Tom's witty dialogue is rendered wonderfully by this cast.) The choreography is by Desiree Justin who also plays the sympathetic role of Cocodrillo where she gets to show off her lovely voice in aduet with Pinocchio called "It All Begins with You" and group songs including "It's Bigge Than Both of Us". (She studied dance with the Boston Ballet and American Academy of Ballet.) Kyle Hemingway may be only a high school senior but he shows off a tremendous amount of talent and poise in the enormous role of Pinocchio. His strong voice sells his solo numbers, "Free" where he first wants to explore the world and "So Far From Home" a touching ballad where he realizes everything he really wanted was back at home. Kyle's acting is excellent, too. His comic timing and line delivery is right on the money as is his dramatic talent when he breaks down after he thinks his friend the Cricket has drowned. (This scene where he sobs over his friend brings the audience to tears and is very well done.) His adopted father, Gepetto, who is a cranky until he carves himself a son, is played by Paul Allard, a powerful bass-baritone who's majestic voice fills the theatre and tugs at your heartstrings while doing so. His fantastic ballads include "Someone to Care For", "The Chance" and "Autumn Gold". The enchantress who watches over them is played by Sarah Duarte whose wonderful soprano voice fills the air with "The Chance" and the fabulous ballad "Make A Wish Tonight".
The biggest scene stealers in this show are the three villains, Stromboli played by David Mello, Baptista played by Richard Bento and Philomena played by Cathy Taitz. David sings the jazz number called "You and Me, Kid" where he helps Pinocchio escape from angry people only to imprision him with his other puppets who he mistreats. Richard and Cathy are in fantastic fox and cat costumes by Fran Petisca and Donna Cote and stop the show with their "Have We Got a Deal for You" which reminds you of "Master of the House" from "Les Miz". They also lead the chorus in "Picking Money from the Trees" which sounds like "The Money Song" from the movie "Cabaret" (the greedy innkeeper and his shrew wife played by Roger Belanger and Fern Rouleau join in the verses of this comic number) and "When I Say a Thing I Do It" with the chorus using fish cutouts while singing this song. Other strong solo voices include Katie Melo, Roger Fornier and George Rodrigues while the dancing puppets include Alayna Martin, Erin Cote, Kelsie Brejcha, Patrick Lambert, Lisa Cardoza, Kelly Camara and Christy Rapoza. The dumb waitress is Holly Cardoza while the fish monger is Ann Flynn and the police Captain is Gene Rheaume. So for a delightful holiday treat be sure to catch this different version of "Pinocchio". You and your whole family will be glad you did.