Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre’s Pinocchio

The Experience: If you have a spare hour this coming weekend, go right now and buy tickets to the final weekend of Pinocchio, the latest show from Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre. I’m not an avid fan of puppetry (though as a mother of two I’ve been to my share of it), but this is perhaps the best I’ve seen…not to mention some of the most interesting children’s theatre in Portland right now.

First, there’s the story, which takes a few twists but stays true enough to the original to satisfy devotees. Most importantly, it clips along, which is a welcome treat for parents. It also keeps those kiddos on their toes, not pandering, but still remaining accessible. All the while, smart dialogue and physical humor provide plenty of laughs for all ages.

Then, there’s the acting and puppetry. The first is superb. Three actors drive more than a dozen characters, both in costume and as puppeteers – and sometimes do both simultaneously for fascinating effect. The puppetry – in this case, a style called Sicilian rod puppetry – is transparent: you see the puppeteers, and yet you don’t notice them. There’s a seamless flow between actor/puppeteer and marionette.

The sets are minimal but incredibly effective, and simple changes make dramatic impact in the scene. The original accordion, piano, trumpet and cello music lend an old-world feel that, when combined with the sets and costumes, transport audiences to another place and time.

This coming weekend, amid all the Thanksgiving-day prep you might be doing, take an hour to see this show. You’ll have yet another reason to be thankful.

Inside information: Get there early and make puppets in the lobby before the show with the help of volunteers. Booster seats for $1 are a good idea for little ones. There are no bad seats in this intimate theatre; if your kids are antsy, the seats along the sides allow them to stand up without blocking anyone’s view.

The 411

Show times:
Sat., Nov. 19 at 11 a.m. and Sun, Nov. 20 at 2 and 4 p.m.. Price: $20 adults; $17 kids 2-14 (under 2 free). Location: The Delores Winningstad Theatre in Portland Center for the Performing Arts; 1111 SW Broadway. Contact information: 503-248-0557; www.tojt.org.

— Sarah Pagliasotti

1 Comment so far

  1. Kate Mura10:37 pm on November 20, 2011

    Thanks so much for the great review. I’m glad you enjoyed the show, I had a blast being a part of this team.

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