Wednesday, July 25, 2018

“Disenchanted” is Enchanting

Camilla Smith in Disenchanted (photo by Fiely Matias)
Mamches Productions
(at 12th Avenue Arts)
Through August 18, 2018

Brad Cerenzia, it turns out, is a social media frenzy – and he’s applied it to his new company, Mamches Productions, for his new production, Disenchanted. It’s a musical he fell in love with when it came out in 2014and waited to produce here as soon as rights became available. It’s an anti-Disney-style “what happens after the ‘married happily ever after’” spoof.

He then cast six powerhouse local actors to take on all these princesses and tell you their wry stories of what didn’t really work any more. Led by force-of-nature Caitlin Frances as Snow White, writer/lyricist/composer Dennis T. Giacino includes Cinderella (Jessie Selleck), Sleeping Beauty (Ann Cornelius), The Princess Who Kissed the Frog (Camilla Smith) , Belle and The Little Mermaid and Rapunzel (all Gloria Alcala), and Pocahontas, Mulan and Badroulbadour (all Aimee Karlin).

Giacino directs this version with help from his Off-Broadway director Feily A. Matias and it certainly seems like a production that could easily be found there today with this exact cast and design. An over-the-top set design by Lex Marcos invokes the fun and silliness of a colorful Disney production. The costuming by Vanessa Leuck (who also designed the Off-Broadway show) also emphasizes the assets (read: boobs) of the actors and the look of cartoons. Zanna King is in charge of the lighting, including required spotlights. The three piece band is helmed by Paul Linnes.

There are a lot of laughs in this production, and Giacino does a fairly good job of trying to get inside the mind of these princesses. Still, it’s pretty obvious that it’s a guy’s idea of what women think. So, while it’s a rollicking good time, and these actors give it 1000%, it feels like an “old” musical. But we see “old” musicals all the time and love them.

Most of the focus is on the stereotypes that the princesses must play. Each princess pokes fun at her particular aspects, and Pocahontas gets an entire song (Honestly) about how she was really ten years old and then Disney ups her age and makes her a love interest with … boobs. Mulan sings (Without the Guy) about how she’s the only princess who doesn’t “get” the guy – and realizes she’s a lesbian.

The Little Mermaid kinda wishes she could give back her Two Legs and be a mermaid again, and Badroulbadour (the princess in Aladdin) makes good points about not being able to drive – the magic carpet even – until recently. Of course, the Princess Who Kissed a Frog gets a big number about it Finally being time for a black princess – but ironically and unfortunately in this musical then doesn’t get much else to do. That stands out as the weakest plotline in this musical.

There are a lot of funny lyrics, which fly by if you can’t listen very closely. Here’s hoping the sound balance has been ironed out by now. Each of the actors manages to both belt and meld in their songs and inhabit their characters with panache. Even so, Selleck stands out with her sly comedic timing and sweetly subversive scene-stealing. She’s someone we should see a lot more of on Seattle stages – so people: Cast Her!

It’s not completely a family-friendly show, but there is not a ton of objectionable content or swear words, so kids 9 or 10 and up can probably see the show and enjoy the jokes. Maybe you’ll have a fun conversation with them about Disney princesses and whether those fairytales should be retired now.

For more information, go to or call 917-768-9246.

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