‘No Strings Attached: A Pinocchio Story’ will be performed Feb. 16-17

Sarah Fox, center, plays Tanio Tuna and is surrounded by the fish chorus of Leia Walters, Anna Shaffer, Clarice Carlson, Sophia Beach and Riley Heffena. Public shows of the Franklin Civic Operetta Association's Youth Theatre's production of "No Strings Attached: A Pinocchio Story" will be held Feb. 16-17. (By Richard Sayer)
From staff reports

It’s an enchanting story of obedience, respect and truth when “No Strings Attached: A Pinocchio Story” is performed Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16-17, at the Barrow-Civic Theatre in Franklin.

The production is the Franklin Civic Operetta Association’s Youth Theatre program’s 17th February all-youth musical.

Public shows are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17.

The show encompasses 75 students ages 8 to 18 years old serving as both actors and working back stage on the technical aspects – lights, sound, props, special effects and sets. The students come from not only Venango County but a five-county radius including Mercer, Crawford, Forest and Clarion counties.

Audience members will watch the enchanting story of the old woodcarver Geppetto (played by Jasey Donovan of Franklin) and his marionette son Pinocchio (played by Corina Curry of Clarion) come to life in this musical adaptation of clever characters and lessons to be learned. Geppetto and his faithful dog Melampo (played by Ellie Moser of Oil City) work on teaching Pinocchio to be kind, go to school and obey. However, friends like Collodi Cricket (played by Jackie Higby of Slippery Rock), the Purple Fairy (played by Alex Webster of Oil City) and her four trusted purple fairy assistants (Alivia Bish and Addilynn McGarvie of Oil City; Maggie Elan of Titusville and Allison Perdue of Franklin) help Pinocchio learn the importance of obedience, respect and truth.

Along the way of discovery he makes a friend in String Bean (Jackson Donovan of Franklin), Anna (Genevieve Hoover of Franklin) Mary (Izzy Ramfos of Franklin), Margaret (Emma Kish of Grove City) and Elizabeth (Hannah Krug of Oil City) take him on adventures to show him all the temptations the village school children face. Curiosity keeps getting Pinocchio into trouble when they first meet Petra the Puppet Master (played by Brooke Whitling of Cranberry) and her band of Marionette dancers (Emily Downing, Grace Hollis and Bailey McMahon of Oil City; Brooke Hovis of Grove City; Alexa Boley and Kaitlynn Moore of Cranberry; Raquel Myers and Isabella Peterson of Franklin).

Next, he then falls to trickery and is duped by Sly Foxx (Layla Hollis of Oil City) and the Klever Katt (Lillie Heise of Oil City). Collodi Cricket calls on the Purple Fairy and her assistants to help Pinocchio out of some trouble and send him again down the right path. However, temptation strikes therefore, since String Bean and the school children have led him down so many temptations they end up turning into donkey children and become part of the circus. But alas, the evil Ringmaster (Ashley Barletta of Oil City) and her strongman helpers (Ayman Braiber of Franklin and Matthew Myers of Oil City) are tricked and Pinocchio escapes only to be swallowed by a Terrible Shark. In the belly of the shark he is serenaded by Tunio the fish (Sarah Fox of Oil City) and her school of dancing Fish (Clarice Carlson of Oil City; Sophia Beach, Riley Heffernan and Lillian Peterson of Franklin; Anna Shaffer of Cranberry and Leia Walters of Grove City).

During these adventures show attendees will hear the narrations of the story as Pinocchio takes his twists and turns as told by Grandpa Woods (Mason Stephens of Oil City), Grandma Woods (Hayley Ripple of Franklin) and their grandchildren Lilac (Martina Baughman of Franklin), Lavender (Addison Schnitzer of Oil City), Chipper (Kyel Harry of Franklin) and Corky (Calan Hollis of Oil City). In the end, show attendees will find out a special secret Grandma and Grandpa are hiding.

Ensemble members include the Speaking villagers (Madison Amsden, MacKenzie Buckel and Ryah Smith of Franklin; Emily Gates, Kaylee Hibbard and Shalyn Wittemore of Oil City and Tyler Higby of Slippery Rock); Donkey Children Chorus (Gretchen Allaman and Keelie Sutley of Cranberry; Fionn Stahlman of Oil City; Jeffrey Brennan, Skyler Green, William Ion and Cameron Whitling of Franklin) and the Villager Chorus ( Jillian Brinkley, Joshua Ghering and Amelia Polito of Franklin; Aaden Hibbard, Avery Van Womer, Logan Welms and Chayce Whittemore of Oil City).

The youth technical crew includes Elizabeth Amero, Logan Bish, Steven Heise, Sam Smith and Sophia Wilson of Oil City; DJ Higby Of Slippery Rock; Ashton Kish of Grove City; Benjamin Hoover, Joshua Brenan, Keller Harry and Tyler Seelnacht of Franklin; Conner Zerbe and Jordan Zerbe of Cranberry.

The show is under the stage and music direction of Martha Heise of Oil City; choreography of Kelly Zerbe of Cranberry and costumes/youth tech advisor Jessica Rodriguez of Franklin.

Other production team members include youth coordinator Angie Carothers of Cranberry; set construction advisor by Stacey Sopher of President; lighting and sound advisor Jill Kellner of Cranberry; character specialist Beth Pfohl of Franklin and assistant Hallie Palmer of Oil City.

“A youth show of this magnitude takes many hands,” said director Martha Heise. “The parents of the youth assist to make this show come to life.”

Tickets cost $13 for adults; $12 for seniors and military members and $10 for students.

Tickets may be purchased by calling the box office at (814) 437-3440 or visiting www.barrowtheatre.com.