AN adaptation of children’s classic Pinocchio is coming to Greenwich Theatre this week.
Based on Carlo Collodi's classic tale, Pinocchio tells the story of a wooden puppet yearning to be a real boy.
Carved out of wood by the lonely toymaker Geppetto, Pinocchio tumbles from one disastrous situation to another in search of adventure — only to discover that, in the end, all he really needs is an unselfish heart and the love of his father.
Written by Broadway and Disney writing duo Neil Bartram and Brian Hill this adaptation is a new version of the story, and blends puppetry, magic, live musicians, singers and performers to bring it to life.
Among its stars is Rachael Louise Miller who plays the Fairy and the Narrator.
The Forest Hill-based actress says she is excited to be part of the company bringing it to young audiences for its three-week run at the Crooms Hill theatre.
"It's really quite magical and beautiful," she says. "It's a real family musical although in many respects it's quite dark. The original story, while beautifully written, was quite dark and even the Disney film version wasn't all sweetness and light!
"This particular version of the story is aimed at those aged five and up so it's not scary but as it's based on the original tale, we don't shy away from the darker elements.
"But there's also plenty of laughter and fun and more than a sprinkling of magic - Pinocchio's nose has to grow when he tells a lie and there's a bit where the boat gets swallowed up by the sea so it's been a lot of fun learning the tricks of the trade to make all the magic happen.
"We also had an amazing workshop on how to use the puppets. It was fascinating and we all learned so much. We use puppets throughout the show and right at the beginning there is shadow puppetry which is really beautiful to watch."
As well as being fun, the story also has a moral element to - that of being good, being kind and doing the right thing.
"One of the characters I play is the Fairy who is like Pinocchio's moral compass," Rachael says. "She is quite feisty and pops into the story to remind him of the direction he's supposed to be taking. He gets distracted easily and goes on adventures very easily so she has to steer him back again.
"I encourage him to make the right decisions rather than tell him what to do or make them for him."
And she says this is one of the reasons it's had such enduring appeal.
"It's such a great story and I think is still so popular and so well loved because people relate to these themes of what it means to be kind and good," she says.
"Children particularly really get that and it's one of the magical things about doing theatre for children - they are so engaged.
"To see their faces when the story unfolds is fantastic!"
The Adventures Of Pinocchio is on at Greenwich Theatre, Crooms Hill, from Wednesday, August 5 until Sunday, August 23. Tickets from £10. Visit www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk or call the box office on 020 8858 7755.