During the March break, Young People’s Theatre (YPT) was thrilled to welcome the Quebec theatre company Tout a Trac and their breath taking production of Pinocchio. Hugo Belanger whipped up a play with dance, puppetry, music, and illusion at a hair rising speed. It was a live, emotional, and just as imaginative as Geppeto himself, the kind old wood carver.
The seats were almost full when the play started. We found a cottage right in front of us. It looked rather small, and had a broken window, a table, some wooden toys, and a log. The lights went dim; the lights only appeared on the broken glass window. The show had started and someone came out the back of the cottage.
I had expected the play to start with someone carving out Pinocchio. But instead, Geppeto, the father of Pinocchio, came in with a loud, hilarious jump-in that brought shock waves of laughter through the audience. Gepetto ran from the back of the cottage, looking very confused. He was cold and poor. He tried to burn a log for warmth, but the log started fighting back, shouting: “I WANT TO BE A BOY, I WANT TO BE LIKE YOU, LIKE EVERYONE! I’M NOT GOING TO REPEAT MYSELF!” and the log soon became the wooden marionette – full of happiness and energy. Geppeto sent Pinocchio, who promised to work hard and bring riches into the family, to school. On the way, though, he encountered a fox and cat. The spotlights of the show were them, for they were a stunning pair that told lies that could build a stair case to the moon. They led Pinocchio out of school, and into a life of lies. With the assistance of the good hearted talking cricket, Pinocchio learned his lessons. He bravely plunged into the ocean, and saved his father from a very large fish. Because of his maturity, Pinocchio became a human boy – a gift from the legendary Blue fairy. The lights dimmed, and the play was out. Then, in the blink of an eye, the performers were back on stage, and took a deep bow. The auditorium was soon filled with a thunderous roar of clapping and cheering.
The Young People’s Theatre showcased Pinocchio, where four actors played ten characters with energy and fun as the wooden marionette met various characters from the moment of his creation until he became a human child. Krystel Descary played the role of Pinocchio. Using the machines on the inside of the old puppet, she allowed him to walk, and move. Gabriel Desantis-Caron played the role of the fox, and a Jolly man. He used his deep voice to project his authority to the audience. Milva Menard played the role of the cat, Candle Wick, and the Blue Fairy. Using body language, she had already stated the emotion of the story. Claude Tremblay: the man who, in my eyes, added the most humor to the play, like Olaf from Frozen. He played Geppetto, the talking cricket, Mangiafuoco, and a misbehaving boy.
In my opinion, Tout a Trac not only well featured the acting part of this show; the supporting team also did a great job building the scene. The play act presented a spotlight on the characters they wanted us to notice. While Pinocchio wished for the blue fairy to turn him into a human boy, the lights moved towards the fox and the cat that tried to steal the last gold coin, and so did my eyes. It also showed the bright oil lamps and brought the thought of “fun” when Pinocchio was in the land of toys. The music made me feel very involved, like a villager just following Pinocchio. It was well composed, and gave the auditorium a touch of holiness. The clothes that the people wore appropriately labeled their class. For instance, the poor Geppetto wore torn and thin layers of clothing. Pinocchio was held by Krystel and presented as an actual wooden puppet. It was full of technology. When Geppetto polished the wood, Pinocchio popped out. This worked because of a spring that sent Pinocchio to burst out after the wood was carved. His nose was extended to a surprisingly long length by using a remote control.
After the show, Voice K was pleased to have an interview with most of the actors.
Descary loves playing Pinocchio because it gives her a possibility to experience new things and emotion. “At first, Pinocchio is rude, so I can explore rudeness. Later on, I learn about friendship and love.” She thinks that what makes Pinocchio a lovable character is that he is naïve and naïve is fun because she doesn’t have to see the mean things that the fox and the cat are doing. Descary is a girl, but she was casted to play the role of a young boy because it is difficult for a grown man to sound like a 7 or 8-year-old boy.
“I would be the cat, because the cat makes me laugh a lot,” said Descary. “I think [the cat] is the sweetest character in the play.”
“My favourite scene is the ‘Gospel Scene’,” said Gabriel DeSantis-Caron, the fox in the play. “It’s when the cat and the fox steal the last coin. We finally [got] the last gold coin!” The challenge for DeStantis-Caron is to sound mean and slimy. Bad guys would sound slimy if they want to trick someone in the play, but nobody is really doing that in real life. He also likes his character because it’s rapid tempo during the scenes, and he has to sing, move, and do lots of physical movements all at the same time.
Milva Menard enjoyed her parts of the play a lot too. Her favorite character was the cat. “I think the cat is the hardest part of the play. I have three characters: the cat, Candle Wick, and the blue fairy. It’s really the cat that’s my favorite because it is very physical, since I’m wearing a mask,” said Menard. “So I need to put the emotion in my body, and it’s hard.” The cat also just wants to be in the gang with the fox, and really, he’s innocent.
Tout a Trac is a company from Montreal, and Pinocchio was brought to the stage in two different languages: French and English. It created a challenge for the actors to rehearse and perform the amazing show.
From 1883 to now, the story Pinocchio still brings jaw dropping adventures. Born from a talking piece of wood, the nerve racking Pinocchio earns his heart’s desire from his amazing quests. As Hugo Bélanger says, "We still need Pinocchio because telling the story of a small block of wood dreaming to become human brings hope to a world that is losing its humanity and becoming increasingly dependent on machines." Pinocchio developed his achievement of becoming a human being, an inspiring fact to everyone around us. So there you go, lights, camera, action!