BWW Review: CONSTELLATION THEATRE'S ARABIAN NIGHTS HIGHLIGHTS POWER OF STORYTELLING at Constellation Theatre

BWW Review: CONSTELLATION THEATRE'S ARABIAN NIGHTS HIGHLIGHTS POWER OF STORYTELLING at Constellation TheatreBefore there was Aladdin, there was Arabian Nights, a series of tales told by Scherezade to King Shahryar about love, lust, vengeance and remorse. Just as Scherezade captivated Shahryar with storytelling, Constellation Theatre's revival of Arabian Nights playing from May 4-June 4 in Washington D.C. captivates their audiences.

With instrumentation from Tom Teasley, a "one-man band" wonder who plays everything from keyboards to percussion to bamboo flutes, the music adds an entertaining, exotic element that enhances the transfixing costumes and animated ensemble cast.

The Constellation Theatre is intimate, so audiences feel the electricity from the sensual cast as they discuss sex, love and sorrow in fantastical Baghdad.

Veronica del Cerro is feisty and spirited as the skilled Scherezade and the ensemble cast shines when they collaborate in song and dance.

The costumes and lighting is rich and viewers will be transfixed by the reds, golds, and blues in each scene. Veronique Kim Tran gives seductive choreography that leaves viewers entertained. Other stand-outs in the show are Lilian Oben (Sympathy the Learned and others), Yesenia Iglesias (Perfect Love and Others) and Dallas Milholland (Jester's Wife and others). The show incorporates elements from musical theatre and the actors are interactive, lurking or narrating from the theatre's pews as the story unfolds.

What makes Arabian Nights particularly captivating is that it touches on universal themes of humanity: love, emotions, romance, passion, jealousy and anger. The show also highlights humanity's need for quality oral storytelling because it is how we keep our traditions alive and our souls captivated. The cast takes all of these elements and runs with it. While the show could have stood alone without Teasley's electric soundtrack adding to the play, Teasley adds a fresh twist to a story that can never be forgotten.

While some of the movement could have been polished and the play lulled a little towards the end, Arabian Nights reminds us why we go to the theater in the first place: to be transported.

*Veronica del Cerro and Ryan Sellers in photo. Photography by Daniel Schwartz

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