It's a new school year, but Anthony Marino, 13, a seventh-grade student at Greensburg Central Catholic Junior-Senior High School, is already studying, reviewing his script in preparation for his role this weekend as Pinocchio in Stage Right's 15th season-opening production of Disney's "My Son Pinocchio: Geppetto's Musical Tale."
For Marino, his biggest challenge isn't all the lines he delivers or the songs he sings in the adaptation of the story about the puppet that becomes a boy; it's with the time he's onstage before his transformation takes place.
"For the first 20 minutes of the show, I'm sitting on a stool, not moving at all until the Blue Fairy (played by his mother, Renata Marino) waves her wand and I come alive," he says.
After that, he sings and dances his way through the musical alongside his toymaker father, Geppetto, played by John Noble. The two have appeared together in several productions and teamed up for Stage Right's performances of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."
Noble says this version of Pinocchio considers the children's story from the viewpoint of his character rather than the boy, providing "Geppetto's back story." In the play, the father wishes so hard for a son but he becomes frustrated when Pinocchio doesn't follow the rules. He asks the Blue Fairy to take him back, until he eventually comes to the realization that he loves his son despite his imperfections.
Noble points out that the composer of "My Son Pinocchio," Stephen Schwartz, also wrote the score for "Wicked," which follows a similar format in telling the story of "The Wizard of Oz" from the witches' point of view.
"The new music in this show is just infectious and the kids are wonderful," Noble says. Familiar songs from the classic Disney animated feature include "When You Wish Upon a Star" and "I've Got No Strings."
Besides his rapport with the cast, the local theater veteran is finding this production special for the memories it recalls.
"When I hear Renata singing 'When You Wish Upon a Star,' I'm a kid again, on Sunday nights with my family watching 'Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color' on TV," Noble says. "With this production, I get to step into a classic and live the journey. We end up in the whale, of course. It's been a fun adventure for me."
The cast of nearly 90 professional actors and Stage Right students includes Tony Marino as director and the character Buonragazzo, David Mahokey portraying Stromboli, and featured young actors, including Grace Rusnica of Hempfield, Julia Boyle of Greensburg, Brandon Shawl of Yough and Ben Pimental of Mt. Pleasant.
Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
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