The classic story of

the puppet who becomes a real boy will come to life when Ballet Excel Ohio presents "Pinocchio" at the Akron Civic Theatre March 5 and 6.

However, this fairy tale will have a hint of local flavor, said Choreographer Erich Yetter.

"We talked about doing 'Pinocchio,' and to do something different," Yetter said. "We decided to set it in Akron in the 1930s."

As a result, this "Pinocchio" not only has traditional elements such as the Blue Fairy and kindly toymaker Geppetto, but a Speakeasy, a main street scene in Akron and a toy factory.

"Akron used to be the toy capital of the world," Yetter said. "You will see the story unfold as it normally does, but then it goes into a street in Akron. We even talked about making Pinocchio a rubber puppet, and having rubber toys. Many rubber products including toys were made here. But we decided not to go in that direction.

In addition to the dancers in the Ballet Excel Ohio company, "Pinocchio" will feature dancers from the Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop, said Yetter, who is also playing Geppetto.

In addition to "Pinocchio," Ballet Excel Ohio is marking its 40th anniversary with a tribute to the youth troupe's founder, the late Nan Klinger. "Four Decades of Dance: A Tribute to Nan Klinger," choreographed by Tom Gold, will include 10 snippets from previous ballets and will include alums Laurie Nielson, Hudson native Dustin True and Jordan Lefton.

"There were so many good pieces, it was hard to pick a top 10," said Mia Klinger, the current artistic director. "We selected a variety, visually and from the music."

Klinger said she was happy that some of the former dancers could join for this show.

"It's good for our current dancers to see those who have gone on as pros," she said. For example, True was recently named a soloist with the Los Angeles Ballet.

But ultimately, the ballet will serve as "a very touching tribute to my mom, very meaningful," Klinger said.

For details or tickets, call 330-822-4296 or visit online.


Phone: 330-541-9438