It's Time For THE NEXT FAIRY TALE
Christopher Maikish and Patrick Gomez as The Princes
Photo credit: Ronn Jones
Most fairy tales follow some version of the 'prince meets princess / prince rescues princess / prince loses princess / prince gets princess back and they all live happily ever after' story. But what if the prince isn't rescuing a princess, but another prince?
Move over Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White, there's a new fairy tale in town. And this one will have everyone in the kingdom in a tizzy. It's The Next Fairy Tale, a brand new musical by Brian Pugach opening at Celebration Theatre on March 11th.
Brian, along with two of his leading actors, Christopher Maikish who plays Copernicus, the Prince of Sunshine, and Rachel Genevieve, who plays Hazel, his woefully inept Fairy Godmother, joined me between rehearsals to talk about his new take on the traditional fairy tale.
Why did you decide to write The Next Fairy Tale?
Brian: I have this philosophy that the reason we think the way we think about relationships is because of fairy tales. They play a big part in forming our opinions because we grow up with them and they represent what a perfect relationship looks like. The intention was to write the first fairy tale that wasn't between a prince and a princess and make that okay.
Rachel: I think that also plays into Hazel too because our ideal of the heroine is this beautiful, put together, perfect woman. And Hazel is so far from perfect. She's a failed fairy godmother with self esteem issues who's had her wand impounded.
Is Hazel the main character in your story?
Brian: The original intention was to have a fairy tale with two princes and the fairy godmother was an afterthought. As the story became more specific, it really became Hazel's story. It's still about Copernicus' quest but now it's not only a story about two princes but the reaction of the fairy tale world to them and what happens after the love story. Minerva, as the leader of the fairy godmothers, feels strongly that a fairy tale cannot happen between two princes so she becomes the witch over the course of our show and she takes it upon herself to foil Hazel.
What kind of an effect does that have on Hazel?
Rachel: Hazel approaches everything with such sincerity and truth, and I think that her reaction to the two princes is really interesting because she doesn't have an instinctual judgment about it right away.
Christopher: One of the things my character, Copernicus, and Hazel have in common is that they come from the perspective of 'the other' to begin with, so they don't necessarily have the same gut reactions as the rest of the characters who have conformed to the way things have always been. It takes them longer to draw their own conclusions.
Have you based the characters on anyone specific, or did they come out of your head?
Brian: Hazel is a combination of two of my favorite characters from fantasy literature - Egwene from Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time and Lirael from Garth Nix's Abhorsen Trilogy, I'm obsessed with those books. Lirael can't do magic, which is incredibly depressing for her because she's living in a society of women who can tell the future.
Rachel: When I've been asked in what ways I am similar to Hazel, some of her most prominent character attributes come to mind. She's this insecure, accident prone person who lacks confidence. Growing up in theatre and doing a lot of ingénue roles you are always trying to be perfect and graceful and together, and it's kind of nice that I can be a little bit more of myself in this. I've always been gawky and awkward and tall, with long limbs I can't control, so it's fun that I can incorporate that into her character.
And what about Copernicus?
Brian: Copernicus is really based on me and my story. He is the ideal fairy tale character living in this perfect story book world, and we would never expect him to admit that there was anything wrong in it. He's oblivious to the fact that people don't want two princes together so when it happens his whole reality comes crashing down.
Is there a message in the musical?
Brian: It's a story about two friends who grow up together. They make each other strong enough to fight for their beliefs, and I think that it's funny because they seem so young at the beginning. She's a klutz and he's the Prince of Sunshine and we kind of laugh at both of them. By the end, they become the two most real characters in the story.
Rachel: Christopher has an amazing tag line for the show that says it all, "Love Conquers Lore."