BWW Review: ELLA ENCHANTED at Kate Goldman Children's Theatre-Des Moines Playhouse: An Enchanting Evening for Children of All Ages
Are you looking for an enchanting evening out with your family? Look no farther than the Kate Goldman's Theatre production of "Ella Enchanted." I was fortunate enough to be able to take my friend's 5-year-old daughter to see the show, and the show didn't just enchant her, but it enchanted me as well. This is an example of children's theatre at its best. From the sets, to the costumes, to the cast, Ella Enchanted will be an enchanting evening for the entire family.
"Ella Enchanted", by Karen Zacarias and Music by Deborah Wicks La Puma is adapted from the award-winning book by Gail Carson Levine. Ella is a baby who cries nonstop, until one day her wacky fairy godmother Lucinda gives her the "gift" of obedience. As soon as someone commands her to do something, she must do it immediately. As Ella grows up, she finds that this is more of a curse than a gift and decides to search out her godmother to request that the obedience be lifted.
I was enchanted from the moment I entered the theatre. Nicholas Amundson does a masterful job with the set. As you enter the theatre, you enter on a painted stone path that leads you into what looks almost like a garden. One of the joys is that the show is set in the round. Nicholas did an amazing job of picking out pieces to have brought off and on stage that took the audience to the location of each scene but also allows people on all sides of the stage to see everything going on.
Also enchanting the audience, was the costumes by Angela Lampe. The costumes showed how masterful of an artist she was. There was a mix of costumes that you would expect people to wear and then kept getting larger. The faces she made for the ogres were beautiful, but the costume that impressed me the most were the giants. The way she incorporated puppetry into the costume for the giants was thrilling to watch.
The visuals weren't the only enchanting part of the show. There were some amazing performances as well. With the show having a cast 7 it would be easy to talk about every member of the cast, but I'm going to narrow it down to a few performances that stuck out to me. First is Maia Talarico as Olive, Ella's dim-witted stepsister. She brought an energy to the sister that grabbed my attention every time she came onstage. Olive did this with the energy and facial expressions she brought to the character. Each time she was onstage, her face lit up. She is a great example of how a person can take a smaller role and make it one that people remember.
Another standout performance came from Demarius Fisher as Prince Charmont. He had the daunting task of finding a balance of being royal but also being down to earth. Demarius does a great job of balancing the two. He plays the down to earth whenever he is around Ella or writing letters to her. You could hear the longing in his voice to have a better understanding of the areas around the kingdom. Because of this longing, you can understand how his character is able to come up with the creative ways to get out of the situations in the show. I appreciated how subtly he played up the royalty. He did this in the way he held his posture throughout the show. It was a great way to show that he was a different class than the rest of the characters in the show.
The performance that tied everything together was Allyson Martens as Ella. Her timing was impeccable which made the character so fun to watch. And with her character timing is everything. Each time someone gave a command her response to doing it was immediate. As an audience member, it was easy to see how frustrating it would be to have this gift/curse where you had to obey every time someone commanded you to. I appreciated that you could see the struggle her character went through as she got older and had to make decisions because she didn't want her obedience to become something to hurt people. It was such a treat and a good lesson on showing how someone can take control of the situations in their lives no matter how hard the situation can be.
From the remarkable sets, to the beautiful costumes, to the amazing cast, "Ella Enchanted" is an enchanting evening for the whole family. "Ella Enchanted" continues its run at the Kate Goldman's Children's Theatre at the Des Moines Playhouse through May 19. To find out more about the show, or purchase tickets visit https://www.dmplayhouse.com/events/ella-enchanted
Des Moines Playhouse has announced their 2019-2020 Kate Goldman's Children series. The shows are below.
Disney's Freaky Friday
October 18-November 2, 2019
James and the Giant Peach
January 3-29, 2020
February 23-March 8, 2020
April 24-May 17, 2020
Family Holiday Classic
A Christmas Story: The Musical
December 6-23, 2020