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“Everything I needed to know about parenting I learned from Pinocchio”

How life and art imitate one another. Unexpected life lessons around every corner.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes at just the right moment a movie, book, theatrical performance, or even a song reminds you that in the hustle and bustle of life we sometimes forget that what we think is common sense isn’t to our children?  That at their young age they haven’t experienced enough to know all that we know, but sometimes we just expect that they should, by osmosis.  Or we speak harshly to our child in our rush to get to where we are going and we have to step back and reflect on the impact of our words.   Add to that other times when little ears hear things we regret they heard while we were having a private conversation. 

My son, Austin, has been a young performer in movies, plays, commercials, etc. since he was six and has been a Screen Actor’s Guild member for two years.  But he really got started in the industry modeling at age three. What I think is really cool is when he gets to work on a production that has a little life lesson behind it.  Even more fun is when he gets to be in the scene presenting the production’s main lesson.  Take the movie Whip it.  Remember the scene where Ellen Page expresses frustration about her mother “forcing her personal agenda” on the character, Bliss, and Kristen Wiig’s response, “you’re lucky that you even have a mom who cares.”  Check out the back seat of the car during that conversation the next time you get a chance to watch it.  That is the love of my life giggling back there.  The latest movie released with Austin and Josh Lucas as his father, explores the impact of our selfishness on our loved ones and the regret it leads to.  I finally took time to borrow Hide Away from the library and was excited to see all of his scenes and lines were kept off the cutting room floor this time.

Being a parent of a young professional actor sometimes has challenges different than those of other kids.  Just like any other child, you must learn how to support their interests even when they might give you pause and make sure their life is well rounded and full of a variety of learning experiences.   Sometimes where it gets challenging, is reinforcing with other people that he is no different than any other kid just because he is a professional performer; nor does he consider himself to be. Often, because of preconceived notions others might have, you keep to yourself some of his accomplishments.  We try to make sure Austin’s friends know that he and I are proud of their accomplishments too, and that theirs are just as important as his.  I am proud of him, not for what he does but for who he is, and for the most part the only person who really needs to know that is Austin.

Disney’s My Son Pinocchio, being performed the second and third weekends in November at the Community Theatre of Howell is one of those theatrical productions, which cause us to reflect, and offers a life lesson, not only for parents, but in several scenes for our children as well.  It is a really good show with lots of humor, entertainment, great songs, emotion and a talented cast of characters.   With all the entertainment My Son Pinocchio offers, I like it even more because of the life lessons it presents. Those lessons will grab you and pull you in.  Austin as Pinocchio and ironically, my husband Brian as Geppetto, help bring those lessons to life with the kind of emotion only a real life father can (as opposed to Austin’s “pretend” dad.)   What fun that they get to share this experience with each other and with the audience in a way not many actors get a chance to do.   And just in time to remind us of all we have to be thankful for just before the holiday.  What a nice treat to share with family coming in early for the Thanksgiving holiday. 

I love a theatrical production that touches on every emotion like this one does.  This retelling of the classic tale of Pinocchio shows us that you must be careful what you wish for, and “just because it’s magic doesn’t mean it’s easy”.  Disney’s My Son Pinocchio – Geppetto’s Musical Tale is a heartwarming show full of unexpected laughs and adventures. Grammy Award winner Stephen Schwartz, known for scores like Wicked, God-spell and Children of Eden, adds a charming and compelling score of original songs to the beloved classics “When You Wish Upon a Star” and “I’ve Got No Strings.”  You will encounter the Blue Fairy (Melinda Towns) as you never imagined her, Stromboli (Chris Salter), Bounragazzo (Mark Mazzullo), Ring Leader (Lauren Bryne), and a wonderful cast of other characters, as Geppetto journeys beyond his village toyshop to discover what makes an ideal child, and what it means to truly be a parent.  This family musical is appropriate for audiences of all ages and is an enchanting blend of heartfelt fairytale and adventure dealing with such important themes as individuality, self-esteem and the relationship between parents and their children.

Come join us at a show November 9, 10, 15, 16, 17 at 7:30 and November 10, 11, 17, and 18 at 2:00.  When you contact the box office check out the discounted Disney package of shows this season and mention code PATCH1110 www.cththeatre.org or 517-545-1290.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Laura Bickel November 11, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Fun backstage tour with the Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts today after My Son Pinocchio. Lots of great questions toward helping them fulfill their advancement requirements! Doing another one on Thursday night, get your group discount tickets and join the tour - Michele Barnaby <mbarnaby@TRADEFIRST.COM>

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