Princesses redefine fairy-tale life, take center stage in 'Disenchanted'

Led by the rebellious Snow White, seven sassy princesses seek to redefine storybook endings.

By Haris Fazlic | Sept. 28, 2012

Tags: Theater

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Showtimes: 7:30 p.m., Sept. 27–29 Location: Macklanburg Playhouse at 100 Willis Ave. Ticket info: Stephens College Box Office

What happens when fairy tales end? Ask the princesses who lived the stories. "Disenchanted," a new musical written by Dennis T. Giacino and directed by Fiely Matias, follows an outspoken Snow White and her band of frustrated princesses in their search for true love and happiness. Tired of their storybook lives, they seek to shatter stereotypes and redefine what it means to be princesses.

At its core, "Disenchanted" is very funny. Much of the dialogue on stage is centered on Snow White’s bossiness, Cinderella’s peculiarity and Sleeping Beauty’s incompetence. A hefty dose of adult humor and some very suggestive songs tie the jokes together and also attack preconceived clichés. The singers add personal flare by exaggerating the ridiculousness of their characters’ lives.

Individually, each performer is unique and impressive. They sing lyrics so infectiously catchy that the audience accompanies the cast during several songs. The level of talent is inexplicable, and the singing needs no further description. It is flawless and projects cleanly through the Macklanburg Playhouse’s sound system. Snow White’s commanding presence keeps the princesses connected, but it is ultimately their quirky personalities that make the show so enjoyable. Jokes follow jokes but never interrupt the seamless narrative produced by the songs. The humor, while it is original and witty, is exemplified by each performer’s deliverance and stage presence.

Teeming from the combined hilarity is the show’s underlying theme: Each princess has her respective qualms. Upon initial presentation, the musical appears to be a clever comedy about reimagining classic fairy tale faux pas. As it progresses, however, "Disenchanted" addresses more than just the latent subservient themes in animated films. The singers lament historical misrepresentation, mistaken identities and the frightening permanence of life-changing decisions. Giacino subtly blends these ideas with current-era humor to produce theatrical gold. Matias’ direction casts each leading lady as a troubled princess, anxious to defy her norms and eager to rebel against suppressive authority.

The thematic variety in "Disenchanted" adds an expected depth to the interplay on stage. Each character represents not only her personal struggle but also the nature of those struggles among all women. Why is Hua Mulan the only princess with no prince? Perhaps the roots lie in societal pressures unseen in movies. "Disenchanted" explores the unmentioned issues that seem so minuscule, and it challenges the audience to do the same.

The closing performance concluded with a wave of applause from a satisfied crowd. As the singers took their bows, the audience rose and congratulated them for two continuous hours of sheer entertainment. Perhaps the name suggests this show takes the enchantment from classic princesses, but in reality, the catchy lyrics, phenomenal singing and hilarious characters in "Disenchanted" show how enchanting real princesses can be.

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