If you thought the carnival left Arkansas with the conclusion of the Symphony’s final Pops concert last weekend, you’d be wrong. The Arkansas Festival Ballet’s "The Adventures of Pinocchio" presented its own circus atmosphere this weekend with wandering minstrels and prizes in the lobby and marionette dolls played by children on stage at the Arkansas Arts Center’s Children’s Theater.
The show went on with forest-dwelling Red Lobsters, Sharks, Lost Children, Venetian Gondoliers, Jazz-age flappers dancing with a Pirate and a waltz in the middle of the ocean (I discovered later that the score was a set of adaptations of the music of Charlie Chaplin). So at some point I just stopped asking questions about the series of events in the absurdist life of a wooden boy, as the depth that usually applies to depictions of children’s tales might have been missing here. That said, the technically brilliant execution of the dancing itself made up for any difficulty in following the story.
What’s important to know is that the sets by Brandon Stalcup and Randie Young were as vibrant with life and color as the real medieval city-centers of Europe I’ve encountered in my own travels. And that, plus the element of fantasy recounted above, made this storybook tale come to life as much as anyone could expect. William M. Strigel