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Review: A Technically Beautiful Menagerie of Warped Perspective in THE ROSE AND THE BEAST at FreeFall Theatre

In their first foray back indoors since the world changed as we knew it, freeFall continues to up the ante and produce cutting-edge work delivered uniquely.

Review: A Technically Beautiful Menagerie of Warped Perspective in THE ROSE AND THE BEAST at FreeFall Theatre

"She wanted them the way she needed the earth and the flowers and the sky and the sea from her tower room and food and sleep and warmth and light and nights by the fire and poetry and the stories of going out in the world and almost being destroyed by it and returning to find comfort and the real meaning of freak."

-an excerpt from SNOW from THE ROSE and THE BEAST

Throughout the last year, freeFall Theatre who is no stranger to inventive staging found a way to make use of their performance space by providing Outdoor Musical Revues. Allowing the company to recoup some lost revenue due to the global shutdown, freeFall took to the streets so-to-speak and provided the surrounding community with joy through song. By implementing a Drive-In aspect to live performance a stage was constructed in the parking lot adjacent to the courtyard, and patrons could purchase tickets or a "parking spot" and by dialing in on their car radio be able to hear what was being presented on stage.

"He knew that he would never be without the right words again as long as she was with him, but he thought he should officially ask her anyway... Will you help me to find the words, O Muse?"

-an excerpt from TINY from THE ROSE and THE BEAST

Almost a year later after the novel Coronavirus Pandemic changed the course of life as we know it, the fine folks at freeFall have embraced opening their doors and inviting fellow patrons back home once more. In true freeFall fashion a more inventive way of safely bringing patrons back inside their hallowed halls. Stepping outside the box of the aforementioned time-honored tradition freeFall and its Artistic Director Eric Davis created an Interactive/Immersive experience that has to be seen to be believed. Through the use of unique staging and an almost "Escape-Room" type feel, an adaptation of Francesca Lia Block's The Rose and The Beast was born.

"Still he came to find her even without her enchantments, her stories, her dress, her shoe. He had the shoe, he'd found it when he followed her. It was so fragile he didn't breathe."

-an excerpt from GLASS from THE ROSE and THE BEAST

Through the use of an App entitled ZAPPAR which can be found on all app/play stores patrons were introduced head-first into the twisted/warped perspective on some well-known fairytales. Fairytales turned upside down in a matter of speaking. Through 9 different rooms each with its own unique interactive staging and set the stories were told. Patrons were asked to download the ZAPPAR App and bring their own headphones. However, if you do not own headphones the folks at freeFall will provide disposable ones upon request. While moving about the 9 different spaces, patrons are instructed to use the App to scan a Lightning Bolt symbol to hear the story presented by local area performers. Once all symbols in the room have been scanned you can proceed through the next room.

"Perhaps it was what she deserved for wanting to make herself more beautiful. And for wanting what she could not have."

-an excerpt from CHARM from THE ROSE and THE BEAST

The 9 worlds in Francesca's story are SNOW, TINY, GLASS, CHARM, WOLF, ROSE, BONES, BEAST, and ICE. The beautiful scenic design by Tom Hansen, Rebekah Lazaridis, and Steven K. Mitchell made Francesca's stories leap off the page and envelop our imaginations so full it felt like we were just as much a part of the story. Original music by Michael Raabe and Amanda Elend helped evoke the right tone to the pieces being presented and created a nice ambiance that acted in a predisposed juxtaposition in which the story was being presented. The scenic work and the original composition blended seamlessly with the world in which Francesca was trying to evoke through her words.

"It was a hot night and I could smell my own sweat but it was different. I smelled the same old fear I'm used to but it was mixed with the night and the air and the moon and the trees and it was like freedom, that's what I smelled on my skin."

-an excerpt from WOLF from THE ROSE and THE BEAST

Through an appointment-based reservation guests/patrons will be able to experience the world with their own party. This allows for Social-Distancing and being cognizant of the surroundings while in a smaller space. The stories told throughout the 9 spaces are ones we have heard before just turned upside down so to speak. Snow White, Cinderella, Beauty, and the Beast to name a few. There were some other aspects involving a club scene and a western scene that almost felt like it belonged in a Tarantino movie. All of the sequences entertaining and different in their own right.

"Yes--- worlds, waters, rocks, stars, color so much color. She can see it all when Rose Red speaks."

-an excerpt from ROSE from THE ROSE and THE BEAST

Technically sound the production is beautifully designed from scenic to lighting, to original music. One thing I will say though is that upon arrival I and another guest in my party found that if you have Apple AirPods the Zappar App does not seem to coincide with the BlueTooth aspect, so I had to retrieve some disposable headphones from freeFall. Samsung Buds seem to work fine, but Apple AirPods have an issue. The other minor flaw I would like to point out is that you have to be aware when going forth into each room. Each story has 9 Lightning Symbols in which to scan before moving forward. The one thing that might help the clarity of the story is by having the spaces numbered in sequence of which to be scanned. This will help the overall flow of the story come across more concise. Several times moving about the space we were left scratching our heads in confusion. For me, I found the most logical way to move about the room is to find the symbol closest to the door you entered and move about the space so that the "Ninth" symbol ended at the next doorway. The original music adds to the ambiance, yes, but at times it comes across as a little too daunting. Often having to listen beyond the music made it difficult to follow the story.

"He said I can make you whatever you want to be. I wanted him to. But what did I want to be? Maybe that was the danger."

"But I thought of the bones. I could hear them singing. They needed me to write their song."

-excerpts from BONES from THE ROSE and THE BEAST

The performers delivered Francesca's text beautifully. Matthew McGee, Alison Burns-Jackson, Heather Baird, Ericka Womack, Kara Sotakoun, and Trenell Mooring should be commended on their delivery of this complex and beautiful piece. The piece has been described as being more beautifully presented if you read the novel first. With that being said, in accordance with your local library has the novel available to read digitally, and only 40 pages make it a perfect read before your adventure.

"Beauty loved him more than anything, her Beast boy, but, secretly, sometimes, she wished that he would've remained a Beast."

-an excerpt from BEAST from THE ROSE and THE BEAST

In their first foray back indoors since the world changed as we knew it, freeFall continues to up the ante and produce cutting-edge work delivered uniquely. Act quickly as reservations are limited for this unique experience. Head on over to to snatch up a reservation onstage now until August 8, with experiences starting at 3:00 pm and last call experiences at 8:00 pm. Eric Davis and the fine folks at freeFall Theatre should be commended for a job well done, producing a unique and engaging experience for all, at a swift 90 minutes it makes for the perfect and unconventional night out, and yes, "You Can Eat the Cupcake!"

"I remembered how love is supposed to break evil spells. Only if you love purely."

-an excerpt from ICE from THE ROSE and THE BEAST

Note: This experience utilizes the Zappar app available for free on your iOS or Android device. If you have an iOS or Android device, please arrive with it fully charged. If you do not have one, we will be able to loan you one in order to experience this production.

Photo Credit: freeFall Theatre

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