Wood Boy Dog Fish is at the Garry Marshall Theatre from now through Sunday, June 24. It is the work of playwright and lyricist Chelsea Sutton and the Rogue Artists Ensemble.
The immersive experience starts with dilapidated seaside amusement games set up outside the theater. Odd people and creatures welcome visitors to “Shoreside, home of the DogFish Adventure Ride.”
This happens before you settle into your seat for the unsettling reinvented story of Pinocchio and his maker Geppetto. It is a dark journey, but for the adventurous it’s stimulating to see the creativity unfold in the weird world of Shoreside.
A team of puppeteers humanize the childlike Wood Boy. It is Rudy Martinez, Mark Royston, and Sarah Kay Peters who make that magic happen. The audience follows the creation of Wood Boy by the lonely drunken Geppetto (intensely played by Ben Messmer), who is bullied by the cruel characters who run the amusement park. Playing their roles with gleeful villainy are Fire Eater (Keiana Richard), Fox (Amir Levi) and Cat (Tyler Bremer).
Tane Kawasaki is lovely as the ghost of Blue, Geppetto’s lost love, who offers hope in this treacherous world. The others in the tale of “What’s real?” are Wick, played sprightly by Lisa Dring, and the MC of Funland, with Miles Taber oozing wickedness. Paul Turbiak has fun as both Dogfish and the nasty little Cricket.
Sean T. Cawelti is the innovative director plus puppet and mask designer. With the help of his costume, scenic, lighting, sound, video, and prop designers, Cawelti creates a unique experience.
“Wood Boy Dog Fish,” a Rogue Artists Ensemble presentation, is intended for mature audiences and is a revised version of Chelsea Sutton’s effects-laden reimagined story of “Pinocchio.” The Garry Marshall Theatre is located at 4252 W Riverside Dr. in Burbank. Call (818) 955-8101 or go to GarryMarshallTheatre.org.