Drew Downing discusses Disney.

Why is The Little Mermaid score embedded into every fibre of my being? Why can’t I have a conversation with someone about a breakup without thinking "I bet this is how Hercules felt?" Why didn’t somebody prepare me for life beyond the small provincial town called Rosebud?

Granted that the music of Alan Menken sparked my passion for all things musical and my love for witty lyricism was born out of the late Howard Ashman’s Beauty & the Beast book and ever since then I tried my very hardest to live a Disney existence. It didn’t work. Somewhere along Eastlink, observing the non-Disney studio art work, I realised that life was bloody hard work. Prince Eric was not real nor will I ever have a crab from the Caribbean there to guide my life decisions.

But I now have an outlet for my frighteningly accumulated Disney knowledge thanks to Panorama Theatre Company. I have found it. The absolute mother-load. Stephen Schwartz. Funniest book ever. The ultimate adult Disney show!

For my generation, the Disney Renaissance (starting with The Little Mermaid and ending with Mulan), shaped our childhoods – whether we appreciated it or not. Some recent Facebook groups include:

  • “I blame Disney for my high expectations in men” (close to one million LIKES)
  • “I blame Disney for my false impression on life”
  • “I blame Disney movies for making me believe singing fixes everything”


How did we come to this?

From the moment I saw the tele-movie GEPPETTO, I realised Disney had changed.

Featuring a cast of Saturday Night Live comedic talents such as Drew Carey, Julia Louise Dreyfus, Wayne Brady, and the phenomenal Usher Raymond as the Ringleader, GEPPETTO quickly became one of my favourite films.

The theme of the stage adaptation My Son Pinocchio is much the same as the movie. In the tradition of Stephen Schwartz’s incredible sideways vision of shows, the lessons learned in this particular production are not there for Pinocchio, but his father; the gifted craftsman Geppetto.

The incomparable Blue Fairy narrates and interacts within the story to provide Geppetto with suitable platforms to learn what it is to be a father. After all, what good would it do making Pinocchio a real boy… Unless he had a real father?

Written in the style of Disney’s Enchanted, My Son Pinocchio is essentially Disney-does-Disney. The humour is very witty and, whilst it delivers all of the Disney goods, it is filled to the brim with adult humour and themes that fly over the heads of younger patrons. An example of this is the town that Geppetto come across called Idyllia; a town where they used to make children "the old-fashioned way," but it was too unpredictable: “See Professor Buonragazzo for a better way to breed.”

A few years ago I performed in Fab Nobs' Honk! under the direction of Paul Watson. Not since that time have I learned more about life, people, or myself. From someone who loves working with children, I am forever frustrated by parents who seem unsupportive and unenthused.

Well, I now understand that being a parent is the biggest learning curve of them all. Snaps to you, parents!

Don’t miss this show.

My Son Pinocchio runs Friday, 30th September 2011 – Saturday, 8th October 2011 at the Frankston Arts Centre. Full info. here.