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'My Son Pinocchio' hits the Geyer stage in Scottdale

| Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, 7:16 p.m.
From left are Brian Howard as Bernardo, Hope Howard as Talia, Martha Oliver as Buonragazzo and Alex Stripsky as Junior prepare for the production of Pinnochio at the Geyer Theater in Scottdale. Rachel Basinger | For the Daily Courier
Nic Parks, a student with the Douglas Education Center’s Tom Savini program of special effects packs up after finishing a casting of Pinocchio’s face. Rachel Basinger | For the Daily Courier

While a 12-year-old local actor will be taking the stage for the first time at the Geyer Performing Arts Center in a leading role of the production of Disney's “My Son Pinocchio, Geppetto's Musical Tale,” he has been acting since he was 4 years old.

Blake Altman of Scottdale said he has been a performer with the Stage Right! group in Greensburg for several years. He heard about the Pinocchio production through “The Nutcracker” show that took to the GPAC stage late last year.

Altman said he is not nervous to fill the well-known role of Pinocchio, but added that there are some special “magical” scenes, including his transformation from a puppet to a real boy, that are a little “nerve-wracking.”

“I'm really just excited,” he said. “With the make-up designers and all of the great actors, I think this will be a really good show.”

Director Ernest Watson said he has known about the show for about 15 years.

“It was a terrific movie and I was excited when they made it into a stage version,” he said. “I got the script and I've had it forever. I was waiting for the right time.”

The show is the story of Pinocchio but through the eyes of Geppetto.

“Geppetto wants to be a parent, but he doesn't understand what a parent is,” Watson said. “He expects a child to be perfect — to know all the rules — but that's not what children are.”

There is a cast of about 60 adults and children, about 30 of whom have never been in a show before.

“They are all so excited to have this opportunity and to be on the stage,” he said.

The show has a few unique surprises including the actual growing of Pinocchio's nose right on stage before the audience as well as the transformation of Pinocchio from a puppet to a real boy on stage with all the lights on.

Special make-up artists from the Douglas Education Center's Tom Savini program will be constructing the nose and other make-up aesthetics for Pinocchio.

“It's magical and it's fun and everything is meeting my expectations to this point,” Watson said. “Blake (Altman) is so incredibly talented. It's going to be a lot of fun.”

The show is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 a person and can be purchased online at www.geyerpac.com or by calling the theater at 724-887-0887.

A dinner theater option is also available with Miss Martha's Tea Room just up the street from the theater. Reservations can be made by calling the theater or the tea room at 724-887-6574.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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