Comments about Danny are in red.


“New ‘Pinocchio’ Grows On You”

The Evening Independent – Mar. 27, 1976

By: Perry Fulkerson (Staff Writer)


            The only difficulty I had in watching the new musical version of “Pinocchio” was trying to make myself believe Sandy Duncan is a boy, which we all are reasonably certain she isn’t. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the show.

            Miss Duncan makes an excellent Pinocchio. It’s just that her hips are too girlish and attractive, and there’s a dance sequence in which she’s anything but a boy (the dance is the only time she falls out of boy character).

            Danny Kaye is magnificent as woodcarver Gepetto, a character he has long been familiar with. Kaye has played warm old Tyrolean gents many times in his career and keeps this character as part of his stock repertoire. All he has done in this case is add the name Gepetto and give him that “personal God” patter which audiences will liken to Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof.” It works.

            This musical version is dynamite. What a production! Full of color and music and vitality and make-believe . . . it would make an excellent touring stage production, if I may borrow a comment from a friend who watched it with me.

            The 90-minute special, with original music and lyrics by Billy Barnes, is co-directed by Tony Award-winner Ron Field who did “Cabaret” and TV veteran Sid Smith. Field also is responsible for the show’s elaborate and delightful choreography.

            Parents undoubtedly will want to have their children watch the show, since it is allegorical (illustrates a truth or truths), but I must recommend that parents of younger children—let’s say, under 5—use a bit of judgment. Two characters may be frightening. The Fox and the Fact could scare some of the littler children.

            The Fox, played by Flip Wilson, and the Cat, played by Liz Torres, might be viewed as monsters. The Fox really does look like a Werewolf. And the Cat looks like a fluffy-faced toy kitty come to life—and that can be pretty scary. Neither Flip nor Miss Torres can be recognized in their costumes, but Wilson’s voice is identifiable.

            Speaking of unrecognizable: The actor who plays puppet master Stroganoff, who captures and uses Pinocchio, is not identified in the credits. I would bet, however, that behind the Faganish face is none other than Danny Kaye. The voice is the only tip-off.

            In other roles, you’ll find British actor Clive Revill as the Coachman who takes the mischievous boys to the Island of Yum Yum and turns them into donkeys, and Broadway actor-dancer Gary Morgan as Candlewick, the leader of the gang.

            Since the story of Pinocchio is almost a century old, most of us know what it is about. Few liberties have been taken with it, except to shorten it for the screen and dress it up a bit. In reality, it has a kind of freshness that makes it enjoyable for those who have seen it umpteen times.


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