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'Pinocchio' performance offers lessons for children

March 04, 2007|by TAMELA BAKER

Disobeying your parents, listening to strangers, lying and just being selfish can get you into a peck of trouble.

Just ask Pinocchio.

A nearly packed house on Saturday at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater followed the misadventures of the wooden puppet as the National Marionette Company brought them to life.

Or as near to life as a marionette and would-be boy can get.

From his ever-protruding nose to the sinister shenanigans of a fox and a cat, to being turned into a donkey and then swallowed by a Really Big Fish, the crowd of children in the audience saw that actions - good and bad - have consequences.

The lesson wasn't lost on 11-year-old Rebecca Dice of Greencastle, Pa., and her 8-year-old sister, Sarah.

"Listen to your parents!" said Sarah, "and don't go with anyone unless your parents say it's OK."

The scariest part of Pinocchio's tribulations?

"The sea monster," Rebecca said.

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After the show, the puppeteers gave the audience a glimpse behind the magic, dismantling parts of the stage to show where they stood to pull the strings - and how they got Pinocchio's nose to grow.

Based in Newfane, Vt., the company travels about 50,000 miles a year to perform its puppet shows, puppeteer Peter Syrotiak said. His father, David, is the artistic director for the company, and sculpts the puppets himself, Syrotiak said. Catie Syrotiak and Ree Sheppard, the newest member of the company, completed the cast.

Peter Syrotiak took questions from the audience after the production, and the first was one of pure practicality.

"How did you make the characters turn into donkeys?" a young audience member asked.

With multiple puppets, pockets and strings, he answered.

Last year, the company performed "Peter Pan" at HCC, with Emily Everett of Hagerstown in the audience. Now 4, Emily said her favorite character in "Pinocchio" was the Blue Fairy.

"She looked a little cute," Emily said.

"Cute" wasn't the attraction for 8-year-old Joshua Grapes of Greencastle, however.

"I liked where Pinocchio turned into a donkey," he said.

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