Friday, June 21, 2002
SMT production about a very special boy
By LAURA STEWART | News-Journal Fine Arts Writer
DAYTONA BEACH — At 15 and about to enter his sophomore year at Flagler Palm Coast High School, David Pandich is a real boy.
So he had to work out new ways of moving, talking and even thinking to become the title character in Seaside Music Theater's production of "Pinocchio" that opens today.
After all, his character starts out as a puppet carved by childless toy maker Gepetto (Jeremy Parrish) in the 19th-century classic. Even after the Blue Fairy (Evelyn LaLonde) casts her spell, Pinocchio strides stiffly on the stage at SMT Downtown.
"It's not just the movements," said Pandich. "I try to imagine that I'm oblivious to anything bad, that I trust everyone because in the beginning I have no reason not to. I'm completely open and trusting, happy to be alive.
"So when I talk, it's like, 'Hi! How are you!' at first. Then, as I see bad things, I start to talk more normally — 'Hi. How are you?' " he said.
But as Pinocchio changes from a wooden puppet to almost a real boy to a braying donkey, complete with plaster mask, to a real boy, his motions do undergo a transition.
During his puppet phase, he acts as if his joints have actual metal hinges; by the time he proves to the Blue Fairy that he's ready to be a real boy, he moves as he normally does.
It's all part of the story's magic, with its echoes of the journey real boys and girls make as they change from self-centered infants into caring young people — a message that is clear in the original story but sprinkled with Disney magic in the animated movie, said Pandich, whose SMT roles include Pip in "Great Expectations" and David in "Rags."
Adding to the fantasy are Steven Simon's costumes, which feature a nose Pandich can extend by operating a valve when Pinocchio lies, elaborate donkey heads and a mask that makes him look like a marionette.
Also creating a fairy-tale atmosphere is the set Michael Amico extended right into the audience area. And, as director/choreographer, Gary Cadwallader aimed for an approach that would entertain both children and adults.
As far as Pandich is concerned, Cadwallader succeeded: "I was just told about the stiff, hinged motions I should have, and I worked on them. They're pretty automatic now, just a part of who Pinocchio is as he grows and changes."
Following Saturday's performance, a special "Pinocchio Party" is planned in the Broadway Ballroom next to the theater in SMT Downtown. Sandwiches will be served, and theatergoers can meet and mingle with cast members. Cost of the theater/lunch package is $15. Reservations are required and are available by calling (386) 255-3146.
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