“Pinocchio” reimagined for Valley Youth Theatre stage

Pinocchio, Valley Youth Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona, theater for kids
A recent rehearsal for Valley Youth Theatre’s production of “Pinocchio,” which opens Friday, Feb. 5. Photo courtesy of Valley Youth Theatre.

He’s back and getting into mischief again. The little wooden puppet who longs to be a real boy from the moment Geppetto the toymaker creates him from a stick of wood can’t seem to help it.

“Pinocchio,” which has been reimagined for the Valley Youth Theatre (VYT) stage, premieres Friday, Feb. 5 and runs through Sunday, Feb. 21.

Directed by Israel Jiménez, VYT’s director of education and outreach, the production is presented by special arrangement with Plays for Young Audiences. Written by playwright Greg Banks, the play is based on “The Adventures of Pinocchio,” a 19th-century work written by Italian journalist and author Carlo Collodi.

VYT’s presentation features Valley actors who range in age from 8 to 19.

“As we get older, we sometimes lose touch with that sense of wonder that was so prominent in our childhood,” says Jiménez. “One of the most rewarding parts of working with young performers is being able to see them embrace that sense of wonder in the theater every day.”

A twist on the traditional “Pinocchio,” VYT’s production is a story within a story. One unusual factor is that, as the story progresses on stage, the players themselves build the sets designed by scenic designer Dori Brown. “This play challenges us to create with the unexpected,” says Jiménez. “It allows us to free ourselves from the givens to make any item on stage become anything we want it to be!”

Costume designer Karol Cooper, production stage manager Tiffany Owen and lighting designer Daniel Davisson all bring their expertise to the show.

Taylor Davis, a senior at Arizona School for the Arts in Phoenix, plays Geppetto in her first role at VYT. She has appeared in other Valley productions, including “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Hairspray,” “Caucasian Chalk Circle,” “The Tempest” and more.

Corey Hawk, a freshman in the journalism program at ASU, plays Pinocchio. Other favorite roles include Jack in “Into the Woods,” Motel in “Fiddler on the Roof” and Bud Frump in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

Can the puppet with the long wooden nose stop telling lies? Can he prove that he’s learned to be unselfish and brave? VYT invites you to come and find out.

Pinocchio, Valley Youth Theatre

What you need to know

  • Times/dates: 7:30pm Fri Feb 5, noon & 3pm Sat & Sun through Feb 21
  • Cost: $18 general admission (plus $2 facility fee; additional $3 online convenience fee)
  • Location: Valley Youth Theatre, 525 N First St, Phoenix
  • Contact: 602-253-8188 or vyt.com