Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Disenchanted @ Westside Theatre (Upstairs )

This show is overflowing with hilarity, wit, great music and astounding talent. Disenchanted features many of the Disney princesses like you’ve never seen them before.  Writer/composer Dennis T. Giacino delivers this un-fairytale production under the direction of Fiely A. Matias with non-stop laughter cocktailed with the sweeping music. The classic Disney princesses are taking a stand against “the princess complex” for the night. They are tired of having to be perfect, thin, sweet, objectified and a list of other gripes .  They are less the typical Disney princesses and more feminist ambassadors. With witty banter and multiple 11:00 numbers, this show delights the audience’s ears and funny bones.
The original Disney princess Snow White, played by Michelle Knight, leads this troupe of surprising royalty with her domineering looks. With her over expressive eyes Knight seems to have invented the phrase “if looks could kill”. Becky Gulsvig portrays Cinderella as a ditzy, sweet, blonde with incredible comedic timing and adorableness.  Sleeping Beauty, played by Jen Bechter, may not be the stereotypical ideal Disney princess but she is perfect as the narcoleptic girl who loves herself just as she is.
Alison Burns plays Belle, The Little Mermaid and Rapunzel. Belle has gone insane from dishes singing to her (among other things) with frazzled hair, crazy eyes and even a strait jacket. Ariel has become an alcoholic who longs to trade her legs for fins. And her Rapunzel will have you rolling in the aisle as the angry German forcing the audience into a sing-off!  Rounding out the cast is Anthea Neri portraying Mulan and Pocahontas and Soara-Joye Ross as The Girl Who Kissed the Frog.  All of Neri’s songs are power ballads seasoned with laughs and Ross can give Beyonce a run for her money in the diva department.
All of these women are nothing short of fierce. Their vocals soar easily even on the highest belt notes, their stage presence is captivating and their chemistry rivals each other in the best way possible.
Costumes by Vanessa Leuck are a nod to the classic Disney fairytale wardrobe but are also reinvented with fresh sass. The costumes help to keep the audience connected to the traditional stories but also allow the imagination to play in this over the top production.  The lighting design by Graham Kindred keeps the mood appropriately groovy and dramatic. Keeping the music on point is musical director Michael Raabe.  Raabe plays keyboard, with Bobby Brennan om electric bass and Gregg Monteith  on percussion. They might be a trio but the sound is as full as a symphony.
The only thing that could have made this show a little more poignant would have been to swap the personality traits of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Cinderella still possesses many traditional princess qualities (dainty, girly, thin), while Sleeping Beauty is portrayed as breaking the princess mold (crude, loud and curvy).  Sleeping Beauty’s sings a songs titled “Perfect” which is about loving oneself regardless of social expectancies. This message may have been stronger if Cinderella (the classic Disney beauty) exuded a crude and loud vibe while Sleeping Beauty (the curvy girl) exuded a dainty and girly essence.  It would have been nice to see not just the “Disney princess” stereotype broken down but also the “character actress” stereotype broken simultaneously.
This 95 minute show is a riot, go see Disenchanted you will love every second of it!

Review By: Staci Morin
Photos By: Matthew Murphy



1 comment:

  1. I saw DISENCHANTED AT THE WESTSIDE, and it was hysterical!

    Ariel was my favorite-how she has handed up as nothing but a boozing lush, who longed to return to the sea. Fantastic show!

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