At the Ambassadors Theatre where ‘STOMP’ holds residency, The British Theatre Academy are performing ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’ until the 31st August- a family musical by Neil Bartram and Brian Hill. The British Theatre Academy (founded by Mathew Garcia Chandler) offers theatre training for future West End hopefuls from industry professionals. Their recent shows include ‘Annie’, ‘The Secret Garden’ and soon they will also be performing ‘13’.
Sticking with the more traditional story of Pinocchio that we all know; the story begins with a lonely carpenter named Geppetto who is desperate for a child of his own. To make his wishes come true, Geppetto carves a little boy out of wood who is then magically brought to life. Like most children, Pinocchio must learn that all actions come with consequences, especially lying. Pinocchio sets off on a chaotic journey by becoming part of a circus, watching his own friends become donkeys, and even ending up inside a whale.
The cast age ranges from as young as seven years old to eighteen, along with some older actors to complete it. The young cast (made up of a total of 17 teams!) are very good and some take on main roles such as the evil puppeteer and the crafty cat. They show a lot of potential to be future stars of the West End, some may even go into big musicals such as ‘Matilda’ or ‘School of Rock’. Lizzie Rees played the the Blue Fairy and Martin Neely played Geppetto. The part of Pinocchio is double cast and in the performance I saw- Nathaniel Purnell starred as the title role. Nathaniel created the physicality of a puppet whilst also playing a curious and energetic boy. Whilst Nathaniel was good at playing this role; he is clearly much older and taller than the rest of the cast. I think the show would have benefited from choosing a younger child for the part as against his backdrop he looked very misplaced.
Overall, ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’ is a charming show. The songs are delightful; you will leave humming “Terra De Ragazzi” which is definitely the most fun song in the musical. The story reaches no dramatic climax which does leave us as an audience wanting more as the tale unfolds. It is only an hour and fifteen minutes with no interval; and with up to three performances running throughout the day, it’s a fun piece of entertainment for families to enjoy on a morning or afternoon. ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio” would work well for touring in schools or in-school productions, and The British Theatre Academy did an excellent job presenting their take on it.
Reviewed by Ellie Devonshire