|Valeh Ashraf plays the Blue Fairy while Vuk Prodanovic plays Pinnochio in the Kelowna Actors Studio production of Pinnochio, presented Feb. 28 to March 3.|
The show is a musical tale based on Disney's made-for-TV movie, which was in turn based on the book.
Full of fanciful and fun characters and creatures, My Son Pinocchio is told from the perspective of the aging toymaker Geppetto, who longs for a real son rather than just the puppet-boy he created.
Enter the Blue Fairy, whose job it is to transform wishes into reality, but only for deserving people.
"The Blue Fairy sets the tone for the show," explained Valeh Ashraf, who takes on the role for the one-hour performance.
"She acts as a bit of a narrator, and stays on stage most of the time while Pinocchio and Geppetto follow their adventures."
"She starts out as a sweet fairy with lots of 'fairyness' to her," she said. "But there's something underneath her as well.
"She's a little quirky and a little sassy, and she's nice, just so long as you don't tell her she's wrong. Like she's made a mistake in giving a defective Pinocchio to Geppetto."
The children in the audience should be delighted as she walks among them, showing off her "very sparkly Blue Fairy dress with sparkly wings and tiara, she added.
An easy-to-follow storyline promises to captivate both young and old with the dancing toys, marionettes and naughty children turned into donkeys on Pleasure Island.
Taking the lead role is 12-year-old Vuk Prodanovic, who steps onto the mainstage for the first time in such a large role, although he has been in several other KAS productions such as South Pacific, Miracle on 34th Street and Les Miserables.
A "triple threat" actor, he is equally comfortable with acting, singing and dancing, and enjoys hip hop, jazz and ballet.
"I'm honoured to be able to play such a challenging role," young Vuk said. "It's easy to get into, although there's a lot of memorization and you have to get your blocking right. The experience is great. I like the character of Pinocchio, how he wants to do his own thing."
Much of the time Vuk will have to deal with a latex mask as the made-from-wood boy-puppet, which has also been created with nose-growing ability.
"It's pretty cool how my nose grows when I tell a lie," he added.
"I also like the dance numbers in the show, especially I've Got No Strings, where I get to tap," he said.
The production, which takes place at Kelowna Actors Studio from Feb. 28 to March 3 with several performance times, brings to the stage the young actors who are part of the KAS Children's Theatre.
Pinocchio is the first-ever show the troupe will stage, and puts to use the many talented youngsters who study acting through KAS.
"These are amazing and very talented kids," Ashraf added. "They are a joy to work with."
The heartwarming tale shows the transformation within Geppetto (Randy Leslie), who is unhappy with the almost-real puppet boy who seems to have his own mind, misbehaves in school and isn't exactly what he was expecting in a child.
Pinocchio runs away from home to join Stromboli (Brandon Shalansky) in his travelling show, and ends up on Pleasure Island, where naughty boys are turned into donkeys.
Geppetto journeys beyond his toy shop to find Pinocchio, ends up swallowed by a whale, and reunites with Pinocchio, who is finally turned into a real boy by the Blue Fairy.
The family-friendly musical provides a magical mix of songs, including When You Wish Upon a Star, and is a great fairy tale with action-packed fun.
Director Margaret Gobie added that the tale is "told from Geppetto's point of view."
"He ultimately learns what it really means to be a father as he travels to find Pinocchio," she said.
"The showâ€¦ has all the elements that make a great fairy tale. It's got action, fun, a smoke machine, lots of magic and a big scary villain.
"And, of course, everything works out in the end."
What: My Son Pinocchio, presented by the Kelowna Actors Studio Children's Theatre.
When: Feb. 28 - March 3 with shows at
6 p.m. & 8 p.m. on Thursday & Friday. Saturday shows at 11 a.m., 2 p.m.
& 6 p.m. Sunday matinee 2 p.m.
Where: Kelowna Actors Studio, 1379 Ellis St.
Tickets: Available at KAS box office, 250-862-2867, kelownaactorsstudio.com, $17