At the start of Creative Cauldron’s 11th season, they are leading off with a rollicking, at times hysterically funny, deconstruction of the princess industry—”Disenchanted.” Clocking in at a mere one hour and some change, this revue of the downs of the princess’s life will leave you laughing. And nodding your head in recognition and fighting not to shout, “Amen!”
This is a very funny show with a very talented cast of actors and singers puncturing some very patriarchal balloons. It’s definitely worth the trip to Creative Cauldron to revel in this high-energy send-up of princess culture.
It also has one of the funniest vignettes I have seen in some time. Molly Rumberger as Cinderella, leading up to the fourth to the last song, “All I Wanna Do is Eat,” chirps her way to the stage, holds out her dainty little hand on which is perched . . . a Hershey’s Kiss. In all, it’s tiny, silver tin-foil glory with that itty-bitty white piece of paper sticking out. You have never seen anyone so enthralled. So happy. So alive with pleasure.
Then she proceeds to unwrap the little candy. Slowly, painstakingly, making sure not to take a chance on nipping off a piece of that tiny pointed top, she absolutely quivers when it lies as a blossom in her hand. At that point, she just jumps to her feet and prances over to the first row and offers to let a gentleman sitting there smell it. That throaty whisper of “smmmeeellllll itttttt” is side-splittingly funny.
But there’s more—she nips off the little pointy end and gazes at it as if she had been offered the secret to eternal joy. The rest of the cast is all leaning forward and toward each other, moaning “No” and “Don’t do it” as they focus on that morsel pinched between her thumb and forefinger as if they were about to take her down on the spot for it.
All of that took maybe two minutes tops and it alone was worth the price of admission. Rumberg has the comedic timing and innocent/knowing facial expressions of Judy Holliday and Lucille Ball. I have never wanted a Hershey’s Kiss so badly and I don’t even like them.
The rest of the cast in this behind-the-scenes look at the princess lifestyle were equally adept. As Snow White and mistress of ceremonies, Candice Shedd-Thompson was cynical and acerbic and put-upon (particularly by Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella) to the max. She’s exhausted by the whole princess industrial complex and isn’t afraid to let you know it.
Amber A. Gibson played Belle, the Little Mermaid, and Rapunzel. As Belle and Ariel, she imbued her self-sacrificing characters with the desperation of women who are forced to atrophy their brains to prop up the men who so nobly “rescued” them. And her Rapunzel was a Germanic “princess” that was just scary—this Rapunzel didn’t take guff from anyone, particularly as she led the cast in the biting “Not V’One Red Cent,” which pointed out that fortunes in merchandising were made off these princesses and they got nada. This is a union-organizing effort waiting to happen.
Mulan, Pocahontas and Badroulbadour were winsomely played with sarcastic verve by Sally Horton. Her Mulan was a hoot—discovering that since she wore pants, why, she must be lesbian—the look of relief on her face at not having to play second fiddle to a man was a laugh-out-loud moment. Plus, she and Cinderella had a few nice moments–they had chemistry.
Ashley K. Nicholas swanned into view as the Princess Who Kissed the Frog, and she agreed that was totally whack. But rather than concentrate on that bit of male-produced imbecility, she focused on being a queen of color, and with a voice that rose to the rafters, she declaimed her emancipation.
Karen Kelleher was a refreshing Sleeping Beauty. Hey, she snored on stage, because, you know, the effects of poisoned needles that send you to sleep don’t wear off overnight, no matter who kisses you. Her party-hearty persona and really, really enthusiastic dancing were priceless.
Dennis T. Giacino wrote the books, lyrics and music for ‘Disenchanted.” There are no false notes when it comes to the subject of men using women’s bodies for advertising, merchandising, selling a dream of pretty creatures needing to be rescued. These women are cranky, tired, hungry and really sick of being created to fulfill some adolescent male fantasy. And they let you know it, loud, clear and on key.
Matt Conner directed; Margie Jervis designed the set and costumes (rarely have traffic cones and milk jugs been put to such profane use), and the musical direction is by Elisa Rosman.
This is a very funny show with a very talented cast of actors and singers puncturing some very patriarchal balloons. It’s definitely worth the trip to Creative Cauldron to revel in this high-energy send-up of princess culture. And it’s only an hour—after all these ladies need their beauty sleep, right?
Advisory: This has adult themes and is not recommended for younger children.
Running Time: One hour and 10 minutes with no intermission.
Show Information: ‘Disenchanted’ runs through October 27, 2019, at Creative Cauldron, Falls Church, VA. For more information, please click here.