Tag Archives: The Adventures of Pinocchio

Review of The Adventures of Pinocchio – 3 Stars

AOP thespyinthestalls.com

The Adventures of Pinocchio

The Ambassadors Theatre

Reviewed – 8th August 2017





“The cast of young performers are amazing, holding the stage and the attention of the children and adults in the audience alike.”



Once upon a time, a long, long, long time ago, while I was growing up I spent a lot of holidays in Italy. I’d seen the animated film but it wasn’t until I visited Pinocchio’s House in a small theme park in Rimini that I realised how well loved this traditional Italian story was. In Carlo Collodi’s classic tale I encountered a slightly more fable-esque version of the story, where misbehaving children feel real fear and encounter many dangers. I hope I’m not spoiling anyone’s fun when I say that the tale of Pinocchio starts out both wistful and sad, rampages through hope, fear and peril, but ends happily ever after!

Since those heady, hot summers the theme park has grown and expanded, and so have I. I’ve seen a few different versions of the folk tale over the years but hadn’t thought much about it recently until the opportunity to see the ‘all singing/all dancing’ production showcasing up-and-coming talent from The British Theatre Academy arose… so I jumped at the chance!

Condensed by Brian Hill, the play manages to keep the action moving without feeling hurried but doesn’t delve deep into the rollercoaster of emotion the story holds, however I will put that down to the 75 minute running time and the child friendly nature of the production.

Starting with shadow puppetry the story of toymaker Geppetto and the loss of his wife become almost a prologue, before the storytelling swiftly moves to real Geppetto (played by Martin Neely) on stage, lonely and wishing for a child of his own, he carves a puppet boy from wood. A puppet who can speak and move and hopefully become his family.

AOP thespyinthestalls.com

Wanting desperately to be human the boy, Pinocchio, reels from one bad decision to another, choosing adventure over his father’s wishes. He finds himself drawn to the livelier children of the town, then into a circus, before he is defrauded of all the money he has, sees his friends become donkeys and even ends up swallowed by a whale.

The Narrator of the prologue becomes the ‘Blue Fairy’ whose frequent encounters with Pinocchio ensure the story skips along fluidly, noting his tendency to lie and choose ‘fun’ over tasks, and she guides him to a moral conclusion: an unselfish act for the love of his father that will make him real.

The principal characters are very good; the slightly manic sideshow puppeteer manages quite a sophisticated performance, as do the sly Fox and the sneaky Cat con artists (the latter steals the show). Lizzie Rees plays the Blue Fairy/Storyteller and her very powerful vocals are wonderful but do at times dominate the rest of the voices in tone and talent, and therefore occasionally seem out of place.

The music by Neil Bartram is good and during the show’s ‘big number’, in which the whole cast fills the stage, the young ensemble dance in formation with gusto and obvious enjoyment (choreographed by Anthony Whiteman).

AOP thespyinthestalls.com

The cast of young performers (from the British Theatre Academy) are amazing, holding the stage and the attention of the children and adults in the audience alike. Their enthusiasm and confidence is infectious. The director does an amazing job organising a cast of approximately 200 that alters on rotation for each performance (there are 17 teams). Pinocchio himself is played by two actors as he is rarely off stage, leaving only Geppetto and the Blue Fairy as permanent, non-changing cast. I have worked in classrooms for many years and sat through many school productions – this is no mean feat from Bronagh Lagan!

The musical is fun and full of energy and a great way to spend a morning or afternoon over the school summer holidays. It’s short enough to not require an interval yet long enough to make the venture into Covent Garden worth the effort. The children in the audience certainly seemed transfixed, there was minimal fuss and talking in the stalls yet half of those watching were under ten years old.

An eight year old near me asked hushed questions about what would happen next as he wriggled with anticipation in his seat. Three children behind me sat in absolute silence taking it all in. Even a toddler sat through the entire show without anyone noticing.

AOP thespyinthestalls.com

Everyone applauded with appreciation at the end. A family group squeezed out of the row in front of me, Granny wiping teary eyes from the school play/children’s choir effect. A couple of 4-year olds in the front row left wide eyed and smiling.

“But is he really real now?” a chatty 7-year old asked everyone on the stairs on the way out. I widened my eyes and nodded slowly when he looked at me and he grinned.

It was an evening where I felt ten again!


Reviewed by Joanna Hinson

Photography by Roy Tan


BTA thespyinthestalls.com


Ambassadors spyinthestalls



is at the Ambassadors Theatre until 30th August



Click here to see a list of the latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

Ambassadors Theatre – Summer Season

Ambassadors Theatre summer season of musicals to feature

‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’


‘13 The Musical’


Following their triumphant sold-out gala fundraising concert of The Color Purple last Sunday featuring major stars from shows including Dreamgirls, the British Theatre Academy today announces a double bill of musicals this summer at London’s Ambassadors

The Adventures of Pinocchio, with Music and Lyrics by Neil Bartram, Book by Brian Hill, directed by Bronagh Langan (Promises Promises, Southwark Playhouse) will run from Friday July 28 – Thursday 31 August.

13 The Musical, with Music and Lyrics by Tony Award-winning Jason Robert Brown, (Parade, The Last Five Years, Bridges of Madison County) and Book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn, directed and choreographed by Ewan Jones, will play Wednesday 16 August – Wednesday 23 August. 13 The Musical is a youth production presented by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe).

This season follows the success of previous BTA summer shows, The Secret Garden at the Ambassadors Theatre in 2016 and Annie Jr, which smashed box office records at the Arts Theatre in 2015. Those shows gave over 500 youngsters the chance to act for the first time in the West End.

Producer Matthew Chandler of the BTA said:

“The Color Purple in Concert at Cadogan Hall on Sunday was an unforgettable night for the audience and for our youngsters getting to perform alongside stars from the West End and Broadway. It is has been an incredible year for the BTA and to date all our productions and concerts have given 1,500 children the chance to perform on the West End stage. For our summer season, more than 2,000 young people auditioned for The Adventures of Pinocchio and over 1,000 teenagers for 13 The Musical. In total we have 17 teams of actors performing The Adventures of Pinocchio and 3 teams perfoming 13 The Musical.This is a fantastic opportunity for all the youngsters involved.”


The Adventures of Pinocchio

Written by the Broadway and Disney writing duo Neil Bartram and Brian Hill (The Story of My Life, Bedknobs and Broomsticks), this family musical is based on Carlo Collodi’s classic tale of a wooden puppet longing to be a real boy. Carved out of wood by the lonely toymaker Geppetto, Pinocchio tumbles from one disastrous situation to another in search of adventure—only to discover that, in the end, all he really needs is an unselfish heart and the love of his father. Based on Carlo Collodi’s classic tale, this family musical illuminates the bond between parents and children in a magical performance that is sure to enchant audiences of all ages!



13 The Musical

An original musical with music and lyrics by Tony Award-winning composer, Jason Robert Brown, (Parade, The Last Five Years, Bridges of Madison County) and book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn, it premiered on Broadway in 2008 and is the only Broadway musical ever with a cast and band entirely made of teenagers.

13 The Musical is an hilarious, coming-of-age musical about discovering that “cool” is sometimes where we least expect it. Geek. Poser. Jock. Beauty Queen. Wannabe. These are the labels that can last a lifetime. With an unforgettable rock score, 13 The Musical is a musical about fitting in – and standing out! Evan Goldman is plucked from his fast-paced, preteen New York City life and plopped into a sleepy Indiana town following his parents divorce. Surrounded by an array of simpleminded middle school students, he needs to establish his place in the popularity pecking order. Can he situate himself on a comfortable link of the food chain… or will he dangle at the end with the outcasts?!

Composed of a precocious cast, no character in 13 is older than the show’s title.The cast is comprised entirely of teenagers, but the stories that come to life here are ageless, the emotions they explore timeless, the laughter and the memories they provide priceless.


The British Theatre Academy is a unique performing arts programme that has inspired and nurtured the talent of thousands of young performers over the past 30 years! We believe that children should be trained as professionals by professionals. Our team maintains an established link with casting directors, music producers, and talent agents across the world. We are passionate about releasing the individual skill and flair of each student in all aspects of their chosen field. Our experienced creative team provide exceptional training and are dedicated in preparing and inspiring our students at the highest level. Last Summer the BTA brought The Secret Garden and Godspell into the West End where over 500 outstanding cast members wowed the audiences all summer long and performed alongside musical theatre stars Kerry Ellis, Ramin Karimlooo and George Maguire.


Wednesday 28 July – Wednesday 30 August

Tickets from £12.50

Running time: 1 hour 15 mins (no interval)



Wednesday 16 August Wednesday – 23 August

Tickets from £12.50

Running time: 1 hour 45 mins (no interval)


Ambassadors Theatre
West Street

Box Office: 020 7395 5405


For full details of performance times and prices please visit: