nytheatre.com review by Joanne Joseph
August 15, 2004
This is one of the few shows appropriate for kids in this year's FringeNYC, and it is an ambitious two-act redo of the fairy tale, with many epic twists and some contemporary touches to help it along (e.g., the witch's employee/goblin calls her boss on a cell phone when trouble is afoot).
There are many pretty songs, mostly in minor key, and mostly like each other. Only during the songs are the body mikes turned on. The Connelly Theatre has excellent acoustics, so this works out. The voices are sweet and pleasing; never mind if the high notes don't all hit their pitches squarely, the performances are decently felt and conveyed.
The production comes from a group of young performers from Pennsylvania, the Bucks County Academy of the Performing Arts, who have worked hard to bring this elaborate piece to town. The children in the audience followed the story wherever it went and seemed held in thrall by it all.
Music, lyrics, and story for this version of Rapunzel are by Eric Stedman, direction is by Sara Accardi and Laura Bowman. The romantic leads are Melanie Rose Walters, of the long hair, and truly lovely, and Sean Killeen as the ardent prince. The witch, who says all men should be shunned (and daughters should be kept imprisoned in towers to avoid them) is played by Shannon Turner. This character, after long struggle, is foiled, and as we know, the prince and the girl find each other again and live happily... well the play ends before the "ever after."
The narrator/cat Pandora is played by Leann Wintermute, who keeps all the plot lines together in good story theatre fashion. The moms accompanying the children at the performance I saw did not fidget, nor did the youngsters. The Brothers Grimm, after all, do push some of our major buttons, and it is fitting that such messages are delivered in a pleasant gloss.