By Rick Busciglio (www.njfootlights.net)
The Chester Theatre Group is now presenting a funny, albeit quirky, and very timely musical comedy Disenchanted! Created by Dennis T. Giacino, it wildly explores the fairy tale take on perfect Princesses who ride off into the sunset with their perfect princes to live “happily ever after.” Do they? Giacino cleverly raises the curtain on the less than perfect life that lies beyond the Disney film fadeouts. Did you know, for example, one prince wanted his princess to do the wash! OK, this a witty, unique “poke in the eye” to the sanitized world of Disney that Giacino has charmingly unmasked.
Director Roseann Ruggiero has nicely cast eight talented young women to play 10 fairy tale princesses: Snow White (Ericka Traugh), Cinderella (Katherine Rose Brown), Sleeping Beauty (Samantha Manno), Belle, of Beauty and the Beast, and Princess Badroulbadour of Alladin (Elle Michaeli), Hua Mulan and Pocahontas (Patrina Caruana), The Little Mermaid (Alison Kurtz), The Princess Who Kissed The Frog (Daisha Davis) and Rapunzel (Susan Hagan).
What makes this production a particularly fun event is the obvious pleasure that the cast are having with their characters. The big three at the center of the production are the domineering and a bit mean Snow White; the flighty, nitwit Cinderella; and the snoring narcoleptic Sleeping Beauty (Ericka Traugh, Katherine Rose Brown, and Samantha Manno). They have great fun with all their songs, with the show opener ‘One More Happ’ly Ever After’ and the Second Act ‘A Happy Tune’ both special treats.
An audience favorite—for obvious reasons—was clearly ‘Big Tits’ with Pocahontas (Patrina Caruana) joining the trio. A showstopper turn was in the second act delivered by Daisha Davis as The Princess Who Kissed A Frog, Disney’s first black princess. She laments “Why’d it take ’em so long to give a sistah a song?” The fine voiced Elle Michaeli was a comedy delight as both Belle (“How am I French… speaking with a New York accent?) and Princess Badroulbadour, who arrives on a clever flying carpet (“Back home, I’m not even allowed to drive this thing.”) Alison Kurtz nails the now-alcoholic Little Mermaid, who has given up her land, her tail and her voice for some guy with big hair. Speaking of hair, Susan Hagan is perfect as the very German Rapunzel.
Since this is a musical…it was nicely supported by conductor/piano Tracy Lee Witko, bass Michael J. Mills, and drums Eric Weinstein.
Director Ruggiero says the message of Disenchanted is “that no matter who you are, what you choose to be or what you look like, girls are perfect just the way they are…Diverse is Perfect.”
Need a good laugh? Go and enjoy.
Please note that this is not a children’s musical. It contains strong language and mature subject matter.
The play will run weekends through Saturday, October 20th. Performances are Friday and Saturdays at 8:00 and Sundays at 2:00pm. Tickets are $25.00 with a discounted price of $23.00 for seniors over 65 and students under 18. Tickets may be purchased online at www.chestertheatregroup.org.
The Chester Theatre Group performs in The Black River Playhouse, an intimate, 100-seat theater in the heart of Chester Borough’s historic district. The venue’s in-the-round format ensures that every seat offers an engaging, memorable experience for each audience member. The theater is located on the corner of Grove Street and Maple Avenue. For more information, visit the CTG website at http://www.chestertheatregroup.org.
(IMAGE: Photo credit: Paula Roper — with Susan Hagen, Patrina Caruana, Katherine Brown, Samantha Manno, Alison Kalaher Kurtz, Ericka Traugh and Elle Michaeli)