Weekend Highlights

Published March 23, 2011
Going Places

A Parent’s Review: Pinocchio at Pacific Northwest Ballet

by Ruth Schubert
seattle child article photo

The Pacific Northwest Ballet has made an annual tradition of staging short (one hour), fairy tale-based ballets as a showcase for the school’s students and to offer a family-friendly show designed to hold the attention of even little ones.

This year’s production is Pinocchio, featuring the school’s upper level and professional division students.

My 8-year-old daughter and I watched the dress rehearsal for the show last weekend and, despite the stops and starts one would expect from a final rehearsal, we enjoyed the narrated tale, the lovely storybook sets and costumes, and the dancing.

The show is narrated by choreographer Bruce Wells, accompanied by taped music (this show does not feature a live orchestra) and follows the original stories by Carlo Collodi.

The performance opens with Pinocchio as a young boy after the Blue Fairy grants his wish to be human. In a mirror, Pinocchio sees the reflection of himself as a puppet, then steps through the mirror to relive his story, starting in Geppetto’s shop.

The newly-made Pinocchio promises to obey his father and go to school, but instead sells his book and takes off to perform in a puppet show, where he earns a handful of gold coins. Instead of taking the coins back to his father, as the cricket reminds him he should do, Pinocchio is conned by a cat and fox who steal the money. The Blue Fairy arrives to console Pinocchio and tell him that his father is out on the ocean looking for him.

Pinocchio goes in search of his father.

It is in the ocean world of Neptune’s court that the professional division dancers have their chance to shine. Neptune’s solo and a lovely pas de deux with Pearl are standouts.

After Pinocchio and Geppetto return safely to shore, the Blue Fairy and her court arrive and make Pinocchio human as a reward for saving his father.

My daughter, who is old enough to understand that the old fairy tales were merely appropriated by Disney – not created by the movie studio – especially enjoyed the humor in the show. She liked the way that Pinocchio the puppet stomps around and puts his ever-lengthening nose in the air, and she laughed at the scolding cricket, who plays the role of Pinocchio’s (ignored) conscience. That combination of humor and good storytelling is what makes the show an especially great introduction to ballet for children.

The costumes, created by the PNB shop, are delightful – especially those of the cricket, the cat and Neptune. The sets, too, are colorful and fun to see.

The dancing is uneven, which is not surprising given that these are students, but a number of stand-out performances from students in the school’s professional division make this a ballet that adults will enjoy along with their kids.

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If You Go...

Where: McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St. (Mercer Street and 3rd Avenue N.), on the North side of the Seattle Center. Metered street parking and pay parking lots are available nearby.

When: Saturday, March 26 at 2 p.m.

Cost: Adults $25-$67 (click through on the ad in our enewsletter to get $5 off the $50 and $67 tickets); children (ages 0-12) $22-$60).

Contact: 206-441-2424; www.pnb.org.