BWW Reviews: DISENCHANTED Charms Minneapolis
In a cabaret-style setting, three fairy tale princesses use the powers of a fairy Godmother to come out of their storybooks long enough to share the reality about life after their personal "happily ever afters." The songs are fresh and inviting. The comedy is coy, friendly and even a bit innocent, as a princess would want to be. The production is simple but the cast sparkles with six actors who are some of the best voices in the Twin Cities, assembled by Director Mark Bergren.
Snow White (Jen Burleigh-Bentz), Cinderella (Bonni Allen) and Sleeping Beauty (Suzie Juul) are the leaders of the troupe of princesses from Grimm's Fairy Tales but they are less than thrilled with their portrayl by Disney and other popular culture of the day. They long to be taken seriously, be allowed to eat whatever they want and escape for just a while to tell you all about it, so they use Cinderella's Fairy Godmother to orchestrate a little cabaret show.
Snow White is the clear leader and Burleigh-Bentz is, too. She runs the show and her talents as a singer are matched by her comedy in this production. Allen's Cinderella is cute, confused and, well, really confused (but we'll leave that secret for you to see on stage). She stands out on "All I wanna do is eat." Juul's narcoleptic princess can barely stay awake for the show but she pops out of dreamland to toss zingers at every turn. Her voice is clear, true and effortless.
Inviting several other princesses to share their tales of woe, we learn that Hua Mulan (Pegah Kadkhodaian) is the only one to end up without the guy and may just certainly be a lesbian, that Belle (Vanessa Gamble) is going insane from all the objects in her household talking to her constantly and cleaning up after her Beastly boyfriend and that The Little Mermaid (Gamble) is regretting the choice to give up what she had under the sea to have two legs beneath her on the ground instead. She turns to alcohol to deal with the choice she made. Gamble portrays both the instanity of Belle and Drunken Mermaid with great comic timing and believability.
Pocohantas tells how she went from being a 10-year-old girl to a voluptuous vamp in the Disneyfied version of her life with a strong but sweet vocal. Rapunzel finds her story hijacked by all manners of media and commerce yet she still has not made one red cent on any of it. Played by Joy Dolo, we also learn German Rapunzel is black--because she's from the Black Forest, of course! Dolo also reveals how The One Who Kissed the Frog is, frankly, just black as she sings about "how a princess got some color."
They are all dismayed at the fact that their mostly male creators chose to make them very well endowed with a hilarious, campy "Big Tits." The joke is furthered with great costuming gags by A. Emily Heaney. The princesses are obviously enjoying this scene as much as the audience did.
All solid singers, these ladies of the story books blend well musically and their real-life friendship and affection is apparent throughout the 90-minute show where they cover the varied styles of song. Many songs contain those above-the-kids-heads lyrics you'd want from any good animated feature. Written by Dennis C. Giancino, the songs are bouncy, fun and funny. Music director Raymond Berg leads the charge after recently winning an Ivey Award for his music direction of the Jungle Theater's URINETOWN.
Gather the gal pals and get your tickets to this show before its brief three-week run is out. With a free drink with every ticket, it's a date night or a girls' night out that you cannot pass up.
Tickets are available at www.ritz-theater.org.
Photo by Kristen Hirsch Montag.