School Library Journal
November 1998, P. 62

Lovely children's theater is at the heart of this educational/ entertainment production. The musical comedy staging is capably performed at Stage One, a program of the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville. Handsome costumes, effective use of painted curtains and special effects, and competent acting with broad humor convey the misadventures of Pinocchio as he is lured along by ill chosen companions and reunited with Gepetto in the belly of the great fish. Pinocchio's final transformation from puppet to human ends the performance on a somewhat abrupt note as the performers all strip off their half masks and send him off the stage, out of their midst and into the audience, while singing about the meaning of becoming "real." This final emphasis on the moral of the story is part of a double set of brackets around the play which lengthens the production into an extended lesson on theater, history, politics, and the meaning of the story. Just before the play begins, the actors proclaim their presence among their theater audience, giving viewers a bit of a lesson on acting and theater. Longer didactic scenes before and after the play feature Professor Elizabeth McNamer of Public Radio's Tea and Poetry in dialogue with a sixth grade boy. On their way to see the play she offers learned explanations of theatrical history, the meaning of democracy, the philosophy of Kant, and some of the political influences of Collodi's time. After the play, she asks the boy probing questions about themes in the play. McNamer extends these conversations into the accompanying pamphlet which some parents and teachers may want to use with middle school children. Most viewers will prefer to fast forward into the play itself. - Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston, MA