Reviews - The Jamaica Gleaner (Date: Wednesday Dec. 30, 1998)
"Oliver and Pinocchio" : Chock-full of Laughter
The Hilarious play Oliver and Pinocchio, now showing at the Centrestage Theatre, New Kingston, is chock-full of the finest comedy and acting talents Jamaica has to offer. A loose adaptation of Carlo Collodi's 1883 original work, Pinocchio, this version of that classic children's tale, has some of the charm of the popular Disney version, with strong Jamaican sensibilities. There may be no Jiminy Cricket, no transformation of the boys into jackasses and no scene in the belly of the whale, but there is a 'deportee' wand (Japanese import) that doesn't always work, hooky-playing boys who dream of being deejays, fairy magical aids like Ponds vanishing Cream and Oliver Samuels' unique belly-hugging laughter.
The play features an all-star cast with Oliver Samuels as 'Oliver', Volier Johnson as 'Gepetto', Glen Campbell as 'Pinocchio', Claudette Pious 'doubling' as the Good Fairy and 'Tiny' and Fae Ellington/Kathy Owen as 'Thunder' and 'Storyteller'. While the acting is entertaining, the musical aspect of the production is terrific, especially the jazzy numbers like Pinocchio, Why Did You Go, with Volier Johnson's voice sounding like a French horn; It Sure Feels Good Being Bad and the dancehall number done to the music of Beenie Man's "Who Am I". Full marks to both Godfrey Taylor, the musical director and L'Antoinette Stines, choreographer. ''Gepetto', the marionette maker, has made a puppet called Pinocchio. However, Pinocchio has
no sense of right or wrong and hooks up with Oliver and they go on a crime spree, even robbing the Good Fairy. After that, Pinocchio and Oliver hook up with two girls, Thunder (Kathy Owen and Tiny (Claudette Pious) and form a crew called the Sketel Vibes Crew.
In this crew, Pinocchio becomes Peenie man, Oliver becomes Oli Ranks, Tiny become Tiny Saw and Thunder retains her name. However, the crew is signed to a manager named 'General Ginaal' and pretty soon, things get antsy. There is a lot of interaction with the audience at times; it is hard to tell who is having mor4e fun, the actors or the audience. There was even a five-minute long period of laughter. Each actor brings his own schtick to the role; check out Pinocchio's sample 'marionette rude-bwoy walk'. It's a great family play, go see it.