Cleveland’s Dancing Wheels to perform ‘Pinocchio!’ in April

You’ve probably never seen “Pinocchio” quite like this.

The Cleveland-based Dancing Wheels Company, America’s first physically integrated dance company that unites the talents of dancers with and without disabilities, continues its 37th season with a production in April of the children’s classic.

According to a news release, “Pinocchio!” will open at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts at St. Ignatius High School, 2008 W. 30th St., Cleveland, with student matinee performances at 10:30 a.m. April 12 and 13. The performance open to the public, however, takes the stage at 2 p.m. April 15 and includes what Dancing Wheels calls the Family Fun Party. Ticket prices — $15/child and $25/adult — include a post-performance carnival for children complete with games, prizes and more.

The familiar story — about a wooden puppet with a dream of becoming a real boy and who has a habit of telling nose-lengthening fibs — grew out of a novel written by author Carlo Lorenzini, who worked under the name Carlo Collodi. It was later popularized in the United States by Disney’s animated film “Pinocchio” in 1940.

For Dancing Wheels’ version of the classic tale, the release states, former Cleveland Ballet dancer and now Broadway choreographer Ginger Thatcher portrays the tale of Pinocchio based off of the original story — but with a new twist. Choreographed to the music of Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Pinocchio’s mischievous escapades take him on new adventures “with unique characters, such as tap-dancing donkeys and discombobulated, but determined, doctors.” Of course, the release continues, old favorites including Jiminy Cricket, Geppetto, and the Azure Fairy are still central figures.

A 12-member cast from the Dancing Wheels Company will characters, including:

  • Matthew Robinson, as Pinocchio
  • Caleb Waybright as Geppetto
  • Mary Verdi-Fletcher as The Azure Fairy
  • Jake Washabaugh as Jiminy Cricket.

“This revival of ‘Pinocchio!’ will surely be an event that will bring generations together as this classic tale is told in an inventive, and new way. And who better to tell this story of acceptance than the diverse Dancing Wheels Company?” says Verdi-Fletcher, who’s also president and founding artistic director of Dancing Wheels, in the release. “The company and school is proudly carrying on its tradition of nearly four decades presenting accessible arts to communities in Cleveland and across America, insuring that full and equal access in the arts is available to all ages and abilities.”

Get more performance details and tickets from the Dancing Wheels website.

Mark Meszoros probably would be more truthful if nose-growing was involved. Follow him on Twitter @MarkMeszozros. Photo: Courtesy of The Dancing Wheels Company.

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