A whale of a time: Creating a paper-mache whale for Pinocchio

Erica Dischino / Tribune Brady Pearson sketches an eye on the paper mache whale structure based off “Monstro” in Pinocchio July 3 at the Community Christian School art room in Willmar. The whale will be used for an adapted performance of the old tale by actors from a youth summer theatre intensive at the Barn Theatre.

WILLMAR — Brady Pearson decided to take on a whale of a project — literally.

Pearson, an art teacher at Community Christian School in Willmar, was asked to create a giant paper-mache whale for the adapted musical "Pinocchio" that will be performed at The Barn Theatre in Willmar by actors in a youth summer theater intensive workshop.

When the summer program leader Nikki Bettcher Erickson asked Pearson to create the whale, Pearson quickly agreed without knowing exactly how it was going to play out.

"I've never created anything so large. This is unknown territory, but I'm excited for the outcome," Pearson said.

Using chicken wire and fabric to form the structure, Pearson modeled the whale after the Monstro creature in the classic Italian tale.


The whale had to be large enough to fit several actors underneath.

"It's a lot of figuring it out as you go," Pearson said. "I'm a perfectionist and I want it to be something I'm proud of. It's a stressful process, but it's really rewarding."

The one-week summer theater workshop for grades one through eight runs through Friday. The premiere performance of the original tales of "Pinocchio" by Carlo Collodi, adapted for the stage by Nikki Bettcher Erickson, is at 6 p.m. Friday. A second performance is set for 10 a.m. Saturday.

Tickets cost $5 per person and can be purchased from noon to 4:30 p.m. Thursday in The Barn Theatre lobby or 45 minutes before either performance.

This adaptation follows Pinocchio, Gepetto and the Turquoise Fairy in Pinocchio's quest to become a real boy. Audience members will have the opportunity to take a trip under the sea and view Pearson's finished whale.

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