Theatre department brings wooden tale to life

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After the end of the winter semester and the stress of finals came to a close, many Golden Grizzlies took off for the summer or prepared for summer courses, but some Music, Theatre and Dance (MTD) students stuck around to prepare for a musical.

Over the weekend, Oakland University’s MTD program put on “The Adventures of Pinocchio,” telling the classic tale of the wooden puppet who chases after adventure and wants to be a real boy. The show was held at Varner Recital Hall May 20-22. 

Directed by Kerro Knox, OU theatre director and associate professor, the musical illustrated the origin of Pinocchio and his unlucky encounters as he journeys to find adventure, rather than listening to his father and going to school.

After multiple near-fatal experiences and reuniting with his father, Pinocchio learns the power of selflessness and love, and transforms into a real boy.

“Directing the show was a delight,” Knox said.  “It is nice to be working in the summer term when no one has other classes to work around and we can rehearse in the daytime. And this cast was fantastic; they are all enthusiastic and committed to the show and to each other.”

Although the musical was geared toward children, the vocal talent and jokes woven in throughout the show made it an enjoyable experience for all ages.

The cast had great chemistry during the musical as well as before and after the show, when they interacted with the crowd and talked with a lot of the children to get them excited about the show.

“The Adventures of Pinocchio” musical is part of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, a national theatre program that has over 18,000 students from U.S. colleges and universities participating. The program has a primary objective of improving the quality of college-level theatre. It provides both theater departments and individual students the opportunity to feature their work and receive professional feedback.

The national program is divided into eight regions, Michigan falling into region three along with Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois.

“[The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival] involves a faculty member coming from another school to give feedback to the cast and crew,” Knox said. “ He then selects one or two cast members to participate in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions, which start in January. The designers also have an opportunity to present their work at the regional festival.”

Knox also pointed out that this year Oakland has had two students selected to move on from the regional festival to nationals.

“Jason Maracani went for his scenic design for ‘A Doll’s House’ and Emily Hadick went as part of the Musical Theatre Initiative,” Knox said.

Now that the performances at Oakland are over, the cast and crew are moving on to performing the musical at local schools in the area.