A Fresh Take on Fairy Tales: See a Light Princess & a Dark Pinocchio at the New Victory Theater
Stage versions of fairy tales are as ubiquitous as little kids singing "Let It Go." It makes practical sense: They're in the public domain so they're free to use, plus they're usually so well known they've got lots of name recognition. But that doesn't mean all fairy tale adaptations are old hat—or totally Disneyfied, either. When mounted with creativity and ingenuity, even familiar stories can feel fresh and insightful. After all, there's a reason these tales have resonated for generations.
This winter our partner, the New Victory Theater, is presenting two unique fairy tale shows that stand out from the typical interpretations. The first, The Light Princess, is a whimsical musicalization of a Scottish story that's fairly obscure in the U.S. The second is a dark take on Pinocchio that hews closely to the original tale. Both are great ways to get kids excited about the magic of live theater—even my jaded tween is psyched to see these two shows.
When I first heard about The Light Princess, I couldn't believe there was a princess my daughter didn't know. But George MacDonald's 19th-century Scottish tale about a young royal cursed to live without gravity isn't that famous stateside. Her attitude is as light as her body until she falls in love. I have high hopes for this musicalization since it was developed at Cambridge, Massachusetts' innovative A.R.T. Institute and stars students from Harvard's graduate acting program. From the video preview, the tone seems big and broad, the pop-theater songs by Lila Rose Kaplan and Mike Pettryrock sound catchy, and the company uses clever low-tech stage effects to make the princess float and swim (her favorite activity since it keeps her out of the air). It's recommended for children ages 5 and up, and is just 70 minutes long in case you bring one of those fidgety princesses.
Conversely, Pinocchio is very well known in this country and beyond. But forget the Disney movie—this moody, multimedia adaptation from Australia puts a wild, psychedelic spin on Carlo Collodi's 19th-century classic. The often scary adventures of a rebellious wooden boy who runs with a rough crowd are realized through live actors, a wide variety of puppets, trippy projections and videos, and authentic rock songs (not that soft stuff). I've watched the video preview a few times now and it looks really cool, dark and edgy in that Shockheaded Peter kind of way, where kids and grown-ups are getting it on totally different levels. Recommended for ages 7 and up and clocking in at two hours, this Pinocchio is definitely not for the preschool set, but it's great for think-they've-seen-it-all tweens (and parents).
The Light Princess runs Friday, February 27-Sunday, March 8 and Pinocchio runs Friday, March 13-Sunday, March 22 at the New Victory Theater, 209 West 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. Tickets are $14-$38.