The British Theatre Academy continue their second annual summer season at Southwark Playhouse with an exuberant production of Disney’s My Son Pinocchio Jr.

My Son Pinocchio Jr: Geppetto’s Musical Tale is based on Disney’s 2000 made-for-television film which features music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and had it’s roots in a book by David Stern. In 2006 it was made into a stage musical adaptation which premiered under its former name, Disney’s Geppetto & Son, at The Coterie Theatre, Kansas City, Missouri.

Much like the original 1940 full-length animated Disney feature Pinocchio,the show is based on Carlo Collodi’s 1883 classic childrens novel The Adventures of Pinocchio. However in My Son Pinocchio Jr, the tale is told from toymaker Geppetto’s perspective as a man struggling to cope with fatherhood.

With ‘be careful what you wish for, it might come true,’ being one of the main premises of My Son Pinocchio Jr, the romanticism of child rearing that so dominated the original Disney feature film is swept away as a misnomer. Geppetto’s parenting skills are pushed to the limit by Pinocchio’s repeated lying and naughty behaviour. So much so that he asks the Blue Fairy to take Pinocchio back.

What follows is a complex personal journey as Geppetto learns the value of ‘letting his child be who they want to be’ and discovers what it means to be “a real father.”

Directed by Seimi Campbell and choreographed by Holly Hughes, this one hour junior version of the show zips along with boundless energy and is a joy to watch. There are excellent performances by all the young cast who also work superbly as an ensemble. James Sampson is empathetically engaging as Geppetto, while Ethan Quinn avoids whimsy and offers a suitably sullen Pinocchio. Joy Clarke oozes charm as the Blue Fairy and Felix Hepburn is irrepressible as the fiery Stomboli.

My Son Pinocchio Jr not only features the beloved Disney classic songs ‘When You wish Upon a Star’ and ‘I’ve Got No Strings,’ but also includes additional new numbers by Stephen Schwartz. Although this is not one of his strongest scores, the songs ‘Toys,’ ‘Bravo Stromboli’ and ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ stand out.

This is a show that will delight audiences of all ages.

My Son Pinocchio Jr plays at the Southwark Playhouse until 14th August.

Oliver is BJTC trained. He also has a MA in Journalism. Jobs at the BBC include research and script writing for BBC Radio Manchester's Chinese language radio programme Eastern Horizon. Work for printed publications include Rise, the Pink Paper, and Theatre and Performance Guru. He is a seasoned theatre reviewer and writes for several online sites.


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