BWW Reviews: Orlando Shakes' Hairy Remix RAPUNZEL
The story is familiar, girl with long hair needs rescuing from an evil witch. Though there have been recent animated versions, Orlando Shakespeare's Brandon Roberts puts a whole new twist on the classic fairytale. As this year's BroadwayWorld.com Summer Stages - Orlando Kid Pick, RAPUNZEL will not disappoint young theatre goers.
Unlike other versions of The Brothers Grimm fairytale, there is no king or queen, but rather a "King of Plumbing." While the Plumber's wife was pregnant, she craved lettuce, which would only be found in their neighbor's garden. The garden, of course, belongs to what everyone suspects is an evil witch. The plumber makes some poor decisions and curses his family. Twelve years later, Rapunzel is the Plumber's go-to helper, but still needs an Apprentice. The Evil Witch comes to redeem her debt and requests plumbing assistance from Rapunzel in her tower. Six years later, Rapunzel needs to escape and does so with the help of her hair, the Plumber, and his Apprentice.
Although the tale has been told time and time again, this version is lighter, but definitely a good interpretation. The 4th wall is down during this show, which is perfect for children. This play may have restored my faith in humanity when the Plumber asked the children, "Should I steal this lettuce?" and many cried out "No!" Young audience members were laughing out loud and some even thrilled to have a chance to help out as Clog Apprentices. Armed with colorful plungers, the Clogs learn some entertaining plumbing techniques.
It is the Apprentice, played by Jeffrey Todd Parrott, saves the day. He also happens to be an adorable goof, who has a crush on Rapunzel. The other male character is the Plumber played by Will Hagaman. The Plumber is a crowd favorite because of his natural comedic ability. In this role Hagaman is able to shine.
As both the Mother and Old Hag, Amanda Leakey, seems to be the character that the young audience understands the best. Whether it is because she is the nagging mother, or the archetypal evil witch, audience members of all ages find Leakey entertaining. One young audience member noted that the Old Hag had more hair than Rapunzel. Probably referring to the comedic unibrow. Leakey also flawlessly delivers her lines that rhyme without hesitation. It is chancy to write in rhyme, but Roberts did well to ensure that the the prose made sense and was easy to follow.
Finally, Jayne Claire plays a smart Rapunzel. No sitting back for this girl, she is fearless. Kudos to Mr. Roberts for writing an interpretation of a fairytale where the young lady is not a helpless maiden. Though her hair is a disaster, Claire's interpretation is not. She is young, impetuous, but also thoughtful and family focused. Overall, this Rapunzel is a good role model for young audience members. Claire is excellent with her young Clogs without breaking character and commits totally to the role.
Directed by Brad DePlanche, RAPUNZEL runs as part of Orlando Shakespeare's Theater for Young Audiences series through July 27th. For tickets and more information visit www.orlandoshakes.org. Arrive early for some plumbing humor. It is worth it!
Photo Credit: Landon St. Gordon