1,074 miles off Broadway
Less than 100 yards from the door of Susan’s condo is a tiny local theater space called The Abbey. We went there this afternoon to see a production of Disenchanted, a musical which has grown out of local theaters and the Fringe festival and will be opening off-Broadway in a few months.
The ostensible story of a group of fairy-tale princesses disenchanted with their lives, this production is hilarious. The six actresses who make up the cast bring that to life with humor, pathos and great voices.
There isn’t really a story line, just the princesses of modern myth singing about the unfairness of how they are portrayed, from a strongly feminist, male-bashing perspective. It should be very popular. Some of the points seemed to me to be greatly overdrawn, some of them were right on–especially when they point out that the real Pocahontas was only 10 years old, not the sexed up late teen as she is usually portrayed. The suggestion the play makes about the character Mulan is quite a change, and surely something of which Disney would never approve.
The actresses are wonderful, especially Breanne Pickering, who steals the show as Cinderella. She’s just too adorable for words. The lead is Snow White, played by Michelle Knight, who has a voice that won’t quit, excellent acting ability and is very fast on her feet, as she demonstrated when she went up in her lines and quipped about it being live theater. You can’t blame her–Cinderella was being so funny that none of the actresses onstage could keep a straight face. When the play even cracks up the cast, you know what really funny means.
It can be no coincidence that the actresses in this cast, with the exception of Miss Knight, could never be cast in a traditional production–they are too old, too heavy, too real to be allowed to play these idealized, sexualized heroines. And every one of them was fantastic.
Disenchanted was originally written by Giancino and Fiely Matias, who directed. Both are former Disney employees, who saw firsthand the effect of the Princess effect on thousands of young girls passing through the gates of the happiest place on Earth every day.
Closing soon in Orlando, the play moves to Tampa for 5 weeks and then to off-Broadway. It has already toured San Francisco, Los Angeles, off-Broadway, Rochester and Sarasota NY.
We loved it. If you get the chance, you will love it too. Watch Cinderella.
There is no set to speak of, very few props and a few curtains. Costuming is delightful, inventive and comic.
The music, lyrics and book were all written by Dennis Giacino, who must be some kind of a genius because it all moves along so well. My favorite song was “All I wanna do is eat”, about the weight consciousness of the American female, but how could I not love a song titled “Big Tits” as well?