By M. Scott Morris
Perspective is everything in Tupelo Community Theatre and Pied Piper Playhouse’s “My Son Pinocchio.” In Disney’s version of “Pinocchio,” the story focuses on the puppet who came to life and had many adventures.
The new show takes a different view.
“It’s about a man who’s trying to find out what it’s really like to be a father,” said Jamiaus Marion, who plays Geppetto, the toymaker who wishes Pinocchio into life.
It turns out when Geppetto made his wish, he didn’t understand that little boys don’t always do what their fathers tell them to do.
If you remember some of Pinocchio’s exploits – skipping school, telling lies, turning into a donkey – it’s easy to see how he could try a man’s patience.
But Harley Nabors, who plays Pinocchio, said the kid’s not all bad.
“I really like him,” Harley said. “He’s a free spirit.”
“My Son Pinocchio” used to be called “Geppetto and Son” when Tupelo resident Jamey Grisham was a member of the cast in Michigan in 2007.
“Dad came up and saw it and really enjoyed it,” he said. “He decided to do it here.”
For the summer, Jamey Grisham, who’s completing a graduate degree in performing arts from Brown University, is serving as musical director, and his dad, Jimmy Grisham, is the director.
“It’s great watching Jamey work with the kids, you know?” Jimmy Grisham said.
The song list includes “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “I’ve Got No Strings” from Disney’s original version. Stephen Schwartz worked with David I. Stern to come up with new songs for the slightly skewed view of “My Son Pinocchio.”
“The music is absolutely wonderful,” Jimmy Grisham said. “Steven Schwartz worked on ‘Wicked,’ ‘Godspell’ and ‘Pippin,’ so the show has some of that feel.”
Up in the air
There’s plenty of magic in “My Son Pinocchio.” The Blue Fairy, played by Alex Barnes, will fly over the other actors thanks to a flywire system.
“The harness is not very comfortable, but it’s fun,” Barnes said.
In the Disney film, the Blue Fairy is an elegant presence. Apparently, that’s only one aspect of her personality.
“She and Geppetto are kind of like an old married couple the way they bicker,” Barnes said. “The Blue Fairy goes from a syrupy sweet, wonderful fairy to a cut-straight-to-the-point, mobster kind of person.”
TCT and Pied Piper usually do separate productions in the summer. They’ve teamed their efforts this year, and put their savings back into “My Son Pinocchio.”
That helps pay for the flywire system, as well as a nine-piece orchestra. The director also promises other tricks and surprises for your entertainment.
“These kids have worked hard, and it’s a great show. We really want to have a big crowd,” Jimmy Grisham said. “I think you’d have to go to a much bigger city to see something this good.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pied Piper Playhouse and Tupelo Community Theatre’s summer youth theater production of the musical “My Son Pinocchio” will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 22; Friday, July 23; and Saturday, July 24 at the Lyric Theatre. Tickets are $10 adults; $5 students or younger. (662) 844-1935.