Young Mt. Laurel resident to perform as Pinocchio in play ‘My Son Pinocchio’

Emma Nasto, age 10, describes ‘My Son Pinocchio’ as a touching show about family and accepting others for who they are.

Photo courtesy of Dave Dabour, Dave Dabour Photography Emma Nasto, 10, of Mt. Laurel is set to appear as Pinocchio, along with Tom Newman, of High Bridge, as the patriarch puppeteer Geppetto, in ShowKids Invitational Theatre’s upcoming production of Disney’s ‘My Son Pinocchi: Geppetto’s Musical Tale.’

One might be hard pressed to find an actor who purposely tries to act “wooden,” but that’s exactly what 10-year-old Mt. Laurel resident Emma Nasto will do for her latest performance as the world-famous puppet Pinocchio.

On Jan. 21, ShowKids Invitational Theatre will debut its production of Disney’s “My Son Pinocchio: Geppetto’s Musical Tale,” with Emma ready to perform as one of the show’s titular leads.

The role marks Emma’s biggest role in a show to date, and one she described herself as “very excited” to play.

For those most familiar with Pinocchio from Disney’s 1940 animated musical, “My Son Pinocchio” deviates from the animated tale in several ways, most notably focusing on a story told from the perspective of Pinocchio’s father Geppetto.

Rather than just Pinocchio’s quest to transform from puppet to real boy, “My Son Pinocchio” follows Geppetto and Pinocchio as they bond and learn what it means to be a perfect child and a real father.

Emma said the show was “very touching to watch,” and even she has difficulty holding back her tears during the show’s ending when Geppetto and Pinocchio reconcile their differences and learn to love one another for who they are.

“When you start loving someone, your life just starts getting better, and it doesn’t matter if they’re perfect,” Emma said. “You just need to love them and everything will be fine.”

Emma describes performing as a “comfort zone” where she can express even more of herself than when she’s living her day-to-day life.

Emma said she started acting professionally around age 4, but even before then she would perform songs and dances in front of her family’s video camera.

“It’s put me in a really good mood, and I don’t really ever want to stop,” Emma said.

Emma also describes the show’s songs and dances as another one her favorite parts, as many are very energetic and fun for her to perform.

In addition to classic songs such as “When You Wish upon a Star” and “I’ve Got No Strings,” “My Son Pinocchio” also features new songs written by Oscar- and Grammy Award winner Stephen Schwartz that were not in Disney’s 1940 film.

“There’s a lot of numbers I get to be in, so it’s really nice to have a big role like this,” Emma said.

The SKIT production of Disney’s “My Son Pinocchio: Geppetto’s Musical Tale” will debut on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 2 p.m. at Voorhees High School, 256 County Road 513, in Glen Gardner.

Additional performances will take place Sunday, Jan. 22, at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 29 at 2 p.m.

SKIT describes the show as a “family-friendly musical” appropriate for all audiences, and Emma said the show’s moral is important for everybody to learn.

“You should feel so lucky the way you’re able to stay with your family and whoever you’re close to,” Emma said.

Tickets are $15 to $20, and can be purchased directly at www.showkids.org or by calling the SKIT ticket line at (908) 638–5959. Tickets are on sale now.