The cast of "Pinocchio" includes, from left, Darcy Misel, Kaylee Collins, Jessica Reed, Sadie Thibodeau, Josie Adasiak, Bjorn Denton, Sophia Colson and Audrey Schack. 

A troupe of Fairbanks teens is putting their drama skills on stage this weekend with the opening of the ensemble children’s tale, “Pinocchio.”

The production is the end result of the Fairbanks Drama Associations’ (FDA) drama camp, a summer program that teaches the fundamentals of theater to young adults. It is being directed by Alex Bengel.

The camp is an intensive, immersive experience, with the young actors rehearsing six hours per day, five days per week. The camp, for ages 13-18, teaches all aspects of theater including lighting and sound, staging, blocking, acting and costuming.

“The kids in this production are spectacular,” Bengel said. “They have shown commitment to becoming better actors and doing what they need to in terms of set construction and backstage work. I’ve been impressed. They are truly great.”

Bengel, a first-time director, has appeared on local stages at the drama association as well as Fairbanks Light Opera Theatre (FLOT) and local independent theater groups. He called directing his first show, “a brand new perspective.”

“It’s hard to see the greater picture when you’re on stage, focused solely on one character,” he said. “It’s interesting to be able to see a production come together as a whole experience. It’s given me a lot of respect for directors who have worked with me in the past.”

The production is a classic interpretation of the story by Carlo Collodi. It follows the misadventures of a wooden puppet, Pinocchio, who longs to be a human boy, and his creator, Geppetto.

Taking the stage as Pinocchio is 13-year-old Sadie Thibodeau, a student at Tanana Middle School who has also starred in some FLOT Jr. productions as well as school productions.

“He’s pretty much like a real boy already,” she said of Pinocchio. “He’s naive and kind of a jerk at some times but he just wants to be accepted as a boy.”

Thibodeau said the camp is physically tiring as she and fellow students have put so much work into the show, but that it’s been a good learning experience.

“It’s a good play,” she said.

Jessica Reed, a 16-year-old Monroe Catholic student, is taking on the roles of Geppetto and the coachman. She’s been seen on stage in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” at FDA as well as other local shows, and has written a short play, “A for Annabelle,” which debuted at the theater’s Festival of New Plays in April.

“I like that it’s such a short period and everyone is dedicated to putting on a good show,” Reed said of the camp. “‘Pinocchio’ definitely has the most elaborate set of the teen camps I’ve worked on so far. We have so many transitions with tables, trees, lamp posts. Everyone is always involved in the scene transitions. This year, they did not skimp out.”

She called Geppetto a lively character and said that’s how she’s playing him.

“The cast is small but we’re all super dedicated,” Reed said. “Everyone in it is a great group of people. We are putting our all into it. It’s really good.”

Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or on Twitter at

If You Go

What: “Pinocchio,” directed by Alex Bengel, performed by Fairbanks Drama Association’s teen ensemble company

Where: Hap Ryder Riverfront Theatre, 1852 Second Ave.

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: All tickets are $10 each, available by calling 456-7529 or at the box office one hour before showtime.


Sadie Thibodeau — Pinocchio

Jessica Reed — Geppetto, coachman

Josie Adasiak — Blue Fairy

Sophia Colson — Pigacci

Audrey Schack — Lampwick

Darcy Misel — Fox

Kaylee Collins — Cat

Bjorn Denton — Town boy, stage manager


Alex Bengel — director

Emma Pace — assistant director