Cumberland County Playhouse revives ‘Pinocchio,’ the puppet that started it all

Cumberland County Playhouse’s "The Perils of Pinocchio" will feature many scenic elements from Joe Varga’s 1988 design.
Cumberland County Playhouse’s “The Perils of Pinocchio” will feature many scenic elements from Joe Varga’s 1988 design.

CROSSVILLE – In December 1963, Paul Crabtree’s “The Perils of Pinocchio” opened in the auditorium of Cumberland Elementary School and created a county-wide storm that gave birth to the Cumberland County Playhouse two years later. Now, on Friday, Sept. 25, the Playhouse will present an updated version of the beloved musical fantasy as part of its 50th anniversary season.

“We’ve updated ‘Pinocchio’ for a whole new generation, while still keeping true to Paul Crabtree’s original vision,” director Weslie Webster said. “We actually use some of the original costumes from the show, along with scenic elements from designer Joe Varga’s beautiful 1988 production. And we’re working with the same team that created the projections and animations for The Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins, who have promised the most amazing special effects they’ve produced yet.”

The cast will include more than two dozen young actors from Cumberland and Putnam counties, along with members of the Playhouse professional acting company. Featured are Chavin Medina and Sasha Villaruz who alternate in the role of Pinocchio, Levi Bailey and Sophie Burnett, who share the role of the Cricket, Darbi Banegas as the Queen of the Sea, Malachi Banegas as the Muledriver, Katey Dailey as Madam Pudda, with Camden Holbrook, Ethan Reed, Braxdon King, Sidney Warner and Carmen Medina as members of the Storybook Family. Playhouse professionals are Quinn Cason as Geppetto, Lindsey Mapes as the Blue Fairy, Donald Frison (who also choreographs the show) as the Fox, Chaz Sanders as the Cat, and Jensen Crain as Mother. Ron Murphy is music director and conducts the Playhouse orchestra for this production.

The Perils of Pinocchio is rated G and is sponsored by members of the Crabtree family. Tickets are available by calling (931) 484-5000 or by visiting

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.