The critically acclaimed Occidental Children's Theater will celebrate its 15th year with a July 8-Aug. 21 production of "PinnochiOklahoma!" and three traditional folktale adaptations at the College's outdoor Remsen Bird Hillside Theater. (Ticket info below.)
"PinnochiOklahoma!" is an acrobatic and comedic mashup of the well-known tale of the wooden puppet that yearns to be a boy and the Academy Award-winning Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. The play's script and action are the result of weeks of improvisation and revision by Jamie Angell, an assistant professor at Occidental and the theater's founding artistic director, as well as the six-person cast. The three traditional stories are the troupe's versions of folk tales from around the world.
Occidental students and recent alumni--Kaja Martin '08, Dana Vigran '10, Jack Sutorius '11, Andy Naftz '11, Claudia Gomez '10, and Reba Buhr '10--make up the cast. They will perform the hour-long production without props, sets, or special costumes.
Tumbling, commedia dell'arte (Italian improvisatory comedic theater), and even clowns influence the physical acting style of the troupe, Angell said. The unconventional material and the absence of props and costumes also force the actors and the audience to rely on their imaginations.
"This is kind of like tightrope walking," he added. "We use our bodies and voices to suggest what the audience's imagination will fill in. We're creating images out of the air."
As someone who grew up watching the clever and subversive "Rocky and Bullwinkle" and "Fractured Fairy Tales" cartoons in the 1960s, combining two vastly different stories is natural for Angell. His first Children's Theater summer production, in 1995, was called "Sleeping Beauty's Monster Truck Rally."
This year's production promises to be just as entertaining. "It's remarkably different from most anything else you see in children's theater today," he said.
"PinocchiOklahoma!" opens July 8 in the Remsen Bird Hillside Theater and runs Thursdays through Saturdays at 10 a.m. The last performance will be on Saturday, Aug. 21. On Wednesdays, from July 14 to Aug. 18, the play will also be performed at the El Centro de Accion Social community center in Pasadena (July 28), and at the Yosemite, Glassell Park, Highland Park, and Eagle Rock recreation centers.
Tickets: Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for children. (Tickets are discounted for Oxy students and employees.) For tickets, call the theater box office at (323) 259-2922. Group rates are also available by calling (323) 259-2771.
In addition, children ages 8-13 can still register for Occidental Theater's Summer Institute of Fun, a weeklong acting camp taught by the Children's Theater troupe. Held Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 5:15 p.m., the camp begins July 19 and runs for five weeks in the College's Keck Theater. For more information, call (323) 259-2771.
Occidental College is located at 1600 Campus Road in Eagle Rock. Parking is located across from the theater. A campus map and directions to the College are available at www.oxy.edu/x119.xml.
For more information about Occidental Children's Theater, go to http://college.oxy.edu/theater/events/childrens-theater/ .