The Adventures of PinnocchioI’m really looking forward to the opening of The Adventures of Pinocchio again at Leeds Grand Theatre at Christmas. It’s a great show and the perfect ‘pantopera’ to see over the Christmas period. I’m in a pretty special position as I get to see how the show comes together from behind the scenes. I have seen over 40 performances of Pinocchio, plus rehearsals, all from behind the scenes and I never get tired of it. Although, I have never actually seen the show as an audience member. May be that could be my Christmas wish?

My role in productions is to ensure that the right person gets on stage at the right time with the right prop in their hand.  But in Pinocchio I am also part of the action, I help to open the curtain for the puppet show and I am the rat hand puppet in the cupboard when Pinocchio is looking for food. From a stage management point of view it is great that all the different departments (crew, costume, wigs, stage management, fly men and props) are involved from start to finish.

Goodies, baddies, fun and adventure – this show will have you booing and cheering ‘panto-style’ by the end. Some of my favourite characters are:

The snail who takes forever to get down from the top of the house.  In reality she just moves to a different window on each platform.  It’s always fun trying to get her rucksack on time between one window and the next.

The Blue Fairy who is blue and sparkly and looks really Christmassy.

The Big Green Fisherman – I am responsible for helping to put the costume on.  There’s always a round of applause.

It’s a big production with loads going on; there are 27 named characters, 60 musicians, 48 singers and a total of 114 costumes.  It is really engaging for children as there are lots of different creatures like the parrot, snail, cat, fox and pigeon.

Funland is a really exciting scene; it makes me feel like a big kid at a fairground! Even backstage I can hear the audience reactions… every laugh, squeal and gasp.  Usually for every performance there is a kid sitting behind the conductor David Parry who squeals, ohhs and ahhhs and points…and David turns around to talk to them which is nice. Audience reactions are what is nice about the show, a lot of Opera North’s productions are quite serious and the audience is very quiet but with Pinocchio it’s a bit crazy and the audience is much more vocal.

Jane Andrews, Assistant Stage Manager