Pinocchio is the first show directed by the theatre’s new artistic director Paul Robinson – and he does the venue proud.
The show is musical, colourful, witty and fun – with a touch of darkness (the characters do get eaten by a monster fish).
But it’s far from gloomy. The set and costumes are in primary colours – red, blue and yellow – those of the circus.
The four actors play all the characters – ranging from a pirate-like showman to weasels in Christmas jumpers.
They also play musical instruments – guitars, cello, trumpet and accordians. The songs are catchy and the music composed by Scarborough-born Simon Slater influenced by Italian street theatre – jazzy and bright.
The story is based on the fairytale about the wooden puppet who longs to become a real boy. It follows his quest to do just that and he meets a cricket, weasels, friendly farmer, villainous cat and fox, criminals and a monster fish along the way.
Each episode is well signposted and the jokes are child-friendly – there are lessons to be learned about truth and friendship, manners and bravery but this show does not bang the ‘worthy’ drum.
The cast are all multi-talented and likeable. Joseph Hardy plays Pinocchio as a spoiled brat and highlights are Anne-Marie Piazza’s farmer and pirate, Elliott Rennie’s Yorkshire fairy and his and Perola Congo’s Elvis-like weasels.
There are touches of pure magic – the zip wire included – (the boy next to me said out loud that ‘that was really funny’) as well as in-jokes about Bridlington, Filey and Whitby. It is not a pantomime – but it does have its traits includin g every opportunity to hiss and boo the villains and cheer the hero.
And the finale sing-along and in the words of that song ‘this could be the best Christmas [show] ever-ever.
Pinocchio runs at the Stephen Joseph Theatre until December 31 with performances at 10am on December 13, 14, 15, and 16; 1pm on December 13; 2.30pm on December 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31; 5.30pm on December 17; and 7pm on December 20, 21, 22, 23, 28 and 29.
The performance on Tuesday December 13 at 1pm is relaxed; on Wednesday December 21 at 2.30pm, signed; on Thursday December 29 at 7pm, open captioned; and on Friday December 30 at 2.30pm, audio described.
Tickets on 01723 370541 or via the website: www.sjt.uk.com