Award-winning artists’ collective Rogue Artists Ensemble has fashioned a new version of their Ovation Award-winning “Wood Boy Dog Fish.”
Based on the already very twisted Carlo Collodi’s “The Adventures of Pinocchio,” written by the ensemble’s own Chelsea Sutton and directed by Sean T. Cawelti, “Wood Boy Dog Fish” manages to take this macabre and gruesome tale to new depths of despair and heartache, all with help of genius puppetry, darkly glamorous sets and the occasional original show-stopping song.
We begin in Shoreside, a rundown seaside town that has grown up around the entirely fictitious legend of the Dogfish, a demented sea monster conjured up to lure the tourists and that has now taken on a mythological life of its own. The local theatre puts on daily shows staring Fire Eater, a rock star of the sideshow performers and a demanding boss to Geppetto, the local puppet maker. She demands several new puppets each day, ripping them to shreds during her performance to the delight and glee of the clamoring crowds.
Geppetto, who has just lost his true love Blue, the inventor of the now broken headlining Dogfish Adventure Ride who died trying to push the ride to the extremes to please the crowds. Exhausted and heartbroken, Geppetto makes a new puppet, something magical or pre-natural happens and bingo, a talking and walking puppet who thinks he is alive is born.
This play is a little outside the norms of theatre, which is excellent. Many of the characters are played by puppets and of course, its main hero is also a puppet, although he desperately wants to find out what ‘real’ is and then become a real boy. There are effects, incredible lighting, sound design and even an entire number in 3D. You will be required to wear the glasses!!
It’s the standard story, but with a modern, ghoulish take. The sets are amazing and the puppets strange and otherworldly. There are some horribly brilliant characters, all vying for attention and control, all struggling to survive in this dogfish eat dogfish world.
I loved this play. It’s weird and it’s wonderful, packed full of intriguing and elusive characters, lessons on how to be kind and become human and quite a lot of humor, which is intense given the subject matter.
You won’t see something this unique outside of Broadway or the West End, I’d say. All the actors and puppeteers are really excellent. It takes a lot of belief from the actors to truly pull off a play the could so easily mock itself, to help create a classic. I really do think this play has the chance to become one.
I highly recommend “Wood Boy Dog Fish.” The costumes are fantastic, the effects quick thrilling and, of course, the Garry Marshall Theatre is one of the most special stages in L.A., so the company is exceptional.
It’s quite a short run, only up through June 24th, so grab your favorite, or possibly your least favorite kid and prepare for the thrills! It played to sold-out houses for its entire run a couple of years ago, so don’t mess about!!
Written by Chelsea Sutton
Directed by Sean T. Cawelti
Running from May 18 through June 24, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 pm. and 7 p.m
The Garry Marshall Theatre is located at 4252 W Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA 91505.
Tyler Bremer as Cat, Lisa Dring as Wick, Tane Kawasaki as Blue, Amir Levi as Fox, Rudy Martinez as the titular Wood Boy, Ben Messmer as Geppetto, Sarah Kay Peters as a puppeteer, Keiana Richàrd as the Fire Eater, Mark Royston as a puppeteer, Miles Taber as the MC of Funland, and Paul Turbiak as the terrible Dogfish and the Cricket.
scenic designers Francois-Pierre Couture and Matt G. Hill, costume designer Lori Meeker, sound designer Steve Swift, lighting designer Joey Guthman, video designer Dallas Nichols, hair and makeup designers Joceyln Pazos and Erica Romero, prop designers Jason Anderson and Victoria Pamlenyi, choreographer Nate Hodges, and puppet and mask designers Greg Ballora, Sean T. Cawelti, Christine Papalexis, Jack Pullman, Morgan Rebane and Brian White.