Pinocchio
Ethan Shaw as Geppetto
Ethan Shaw rehearses his lines as Geppetto in preparation for this weekend’s performance of Pinocchio.

Treat Dad to something special this Father’s Day and take him to Carlo Collodi’s classic tale of Pinocchio, presented by Tulsa Opera and the Tulsa Youth Opera. Featuring a live performance, a large cast, an orchestra, a donkey can-can song and lighthearted choreography, this take on the popular fairytale about a puppet-turned-real-boy and his father’s enduring love is sure to inspire.

“It’s a remarkable show,” says Ethan Shaw, a 16-year-old member of the Tulsa Youth Opera who performs the role of Geppetto, the puppet-maker and father of Pinocchio. “Not only is the singing phenomenal, but the characters that my fellow performers and I get to bring to life are all full of personality and they are all a treat to watch.”

Buy tickets for the Tulsa Youth Opera performance of Pinocchio: Saturday, June 16, at 7:30 pm, or Sunday, June 17, at 2:30 pm at the John H. Williams Theatre at Tulsa PAC.

For Shaw, who is the son of JJ and Andrea Shaw of Jenks and an 11th-grader at Riverfield Country Day School, this marks his fourth performance in a TYO mainstage production. He played the role of Nemo in Little Nemo in Slumberland in 2014, Asher in The Giver in 2015, Balin in The Hobbit in 2016, and Crow in last year’s TYO premiere of The Snow Queen.

Seemingly wise beyond his years, Shaw describes Geppetto as a father with good intentions, but whose efforts are often misplaced. “He is a really caring parent who is just looking out for Pinocchio’s well-being,” says Ethan, who sings a few big arias in this opera, including a lovely duet with Pinocchio when father and son reunite in the belly of the whale. “Pinocchio is a lighthearted, fun show that the whole family can enjoy.”

Featuring a cast of 45 children, ages 8 to 18, from the Tulsa Youth Opera, the production is conducted by TYO’s musical director Aaron Beck, along with Tulsa Opera’s professional orchestra. Dani Keil, who served as assistant stage director for Tulsa Opera’s 70th anniversary season, makes her debut as stage director for TYO. Choreography by Samira Ali, a Kripalaya Dance Academy instructor who co-choreographed The Stars Align anniversary gala, adds a humorous and creative touch in her debut with TYO.

Pinocchio Rehearsal Donkey Can-Can
Students in the Tulsa Youth Opera practice the Donkey Can-Can song.

“Dani brings an energy to the rehearsal process that the kids absolutely have to have. She’s very creative in taking a story that’s made up with so many little vignettes and weaving it into one wonderful story,” Beck says.

Samira’s choreography ties it all together with dancing on stage to match a variety of musical styles, including a number with donkeys (an evil sorcerer turns naughty children into donkeys) performing the Donkey Can-Can song.

“This is the first time that choreography has been a such big part of a Tulsa Youth Opera show thanks to our relationship with Kripalaya Dance Academy,” Beck adds. “We have students in the group who are outstanding dancers.”

The children involved in the Tulsa Youth Opera work hard, Beck says, and he’s always amazed at how quickly they learn. “It’s really incredible to watch how all of that focus has congealed into a team working together. They love what they’re doing, and they want it to be the best.” Music is an integral part of their lives, and that passion is seen on stage in their performances.

Interested in joining the Tulsa Youth Opera? Now’s your chance. Auditions for the 2018/2019 TYO are Saturday, June 23. Registration is available online, or contact Beck at abeck@tulsaopera.com for more information.