When the Disney Princesses Become ‘Disenchanted’
Grown-up musical takes on the fairytales of happily ever after
A group of famed Disney princesses behave as if they’ve been sprinkled with truth-telling pixie dust in the touring musical, Disenchanted, which closed after a week in Vogel Hall’s Wilson Theater. The six women in the cast make a strong case that little girls have been sold a bill of goods when reading stories of these beautiful princesses, most of whom waited patiently before being “saved” by a prince. In a charming, and often hilarious way, they make their point. “Happily ever after ain’t what it’s cracked up to be,” one claims.
Our inner selves chuckle at the “realities” they go on to explain, or rather sing, in a series of ballads and production numbers. Before that happens, the show’s concept is introduced by Snow White (Merritt Crews), Cinderella (Madison Hayes-Crook) and Sleeping Beauty (Amelia Hironaka). Before the show ends, we’re also entertained by Mulan and Pocahontas (played by Ann Paula Bautista); and the Little Mermaid, Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) and Rapunzel (all performed by Miriam Drysdale). There’s also the unnamed Princess Who Kissed the Frog (Quashaea Marie).
About 85% of the audience on opening night was female. Generally speaking, these women seemed as if they were enjoying this girls night out. Their frequent whistles and applause signaled that they identified with many of the trials and tribulations demonstrated onstage.
All the women in the cast have strong voices as well as strong characters. The best singing voice may belong to Bautista, whose range and pitch are absolutely stunning. Make no mistake; this is a very grown-up version that these story characters have to tell. In one of the funnier sequences, Mulan wonders why she never “got a guy” in her story. “Maybe I’m a lesbian!” she chirps brightly. Cinderella, the only ditzy one in the troupe, focuses on her carriage-pulling steeds that turn into rats at the stroke of midnight. “They’re dirty; they’re ugly, they carry diseases, they’re vermin!” she rants. Poor Belle is so distraught by her predicament that she delivers her song while tied up in a straightjacket. And Ariel, the little mermaid, lurches around the stage while swilling beer and wishing she could return to the sea. “Legs aren’t so great,” she complains, while slurring her words. “They have to be shaved twice a week, and I’ve already got fallen arches.” The Princess Who Kissed a Frog laments that even though she’s black, Disney made her sing and behave like a white girl. “Why couldn’t we have a sista’?” she says while doing some rap choreography.
As for the other girls, expect some twerking and jive-talking in between their hilarious “posing” as the characters they’ve faked all these years. It’s clear that this show has invested its cash in talent and costumes instead of sets, musicians and lighting effects. The sassy costumes alone are worth the price of admission—but don’t expect to see them in a Disney store anytime soon.