Geyer opens anniversary season with 'Pinocchio' musical
As the major cultural venue in Scottdale, the Geyer Performing Arts Center holds an important place in the community. Built as the Geyer Opera House in 1900, the theater has hosted everything from operas and vaudeville shows to modern-day plays and movies. The building was renovated and reopened in 1988 as the Geyer Center for the Performing Arts, which kicks off its 25th anniversary season this weekend with a musical version of a familiar family classic.
“My Son Pinocchio: Geppetto's Musical Tale” is a two-act play full of magic and meaning for children and adults. When toymaker Geppetto wishes for a son of his own, the Blue Fairy brings the puppet Pinocchio to life. However, Geppetto is not satisfied with his new “son” and asks the fairy to take him back.
After Pinocchio overhears Geppetto saying that he doesn't want him, Pinocchio runs off to join a marionette show. When Geppetto proves that he misses the boy and wants him back, the Blue Fairy turns Pinocchio into a real boy at last, thereby granting the toymaker's wish. The two are reunited as father and son.
“It's a really wonderful story for parents and children,” says director Ernie Watson. The plot reminds parents to accept children for who they are. Children will enjoy the comedic moments and magical elements sprinkled throughout the play. Blake Altman, who plays Pinocchio, wears a prosthetic nose that grows twice during the show. “And there's a big magic trick at the end to transform him from a puppet into a little boy,” Watson says.
The Geyer Center's anniversary season will continue in March with “Drinking Habits,” a comedy about nuns who secretly make wine to raise money for their convent. “Schoolhouse Rock” will be performed in May, followed by “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in August. The season ends in November with “Man of La Mancha,” which was the first show produced when the theater reopened 25 years ago.
The president of the Geyer board is Brad Geyer, who is a descendant of the theater's founder. Geyer says he is enthusiastic about the advantages of the small-town theater. “You don't have to drive into Pittsburgh, and you don't have to pay for parking,” he says. “You just get to be entertained for a while.”
The physical theater space is shared by the Actors and Artists of Fayette County, which moved to the Geyer upon its reopening in 1988. Karen Snyder of Greensburg is president of that group's board of directors.
“It's a wonderful little theater,” she says. “It was an old opera house, so it lent itself to doing musicals because of the excellent acoustics.”
Volunteers are always welcome at the Geyer, whether they prefer to audition for a play or help behind the scenes.
“There's something for everyone to do,” Brad Geyer says. “No matter what you're good at, we have something for you to do at the Geyer Performing Arts Center.”
Cynthia Bombach Helzel is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.