Full disclosure: as a kid, Rapunzel was always my least favorite of the Disney’fied stories. I never really understood why Rapunzel was such a push over and just didn’t crawl down the tower, even if her mom was a witch. And then, of course, the fact that her mom wasn’t really her mom but a child kidnapper is bound to unsettle any child. So I chalked it up as a creepy tale and moved on. Then I became a mother to two young girls and frankly, locking them up in a high tower often strikes me as an appealing idea. As does having magical witch powers. On Sunday, we attended Imagination Stage’s production of Rapunzel and heading into it, I already knew I’d like the witch, but I was ill-prepared for how much I would like all the characters and their modern twist on the Grimm fairytale.
Directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer and performed by just a cast of four extremely talented actors, Imagination Stage’s Rapunzel is a spring musical you don’t want to miss. It is billed as a “musical fairy tale about letting your hair down,” and what you could easily overlook is that the show is just as much about Rapunzel letting her hair down as it is about parents letting their kids find their own freedom. The story line skillfully ignores the Witch as a kidnapper and instead portrays her as a flawed human being; a mother who actually means well and wants what’s best for her daughter, just makes a few too many controlling mistakes along the way.
We’ve all been there, I’m sure. And in this day of constant media attention around American mother’s apparent need for perfection and helicopter parenting, I found it refreshing and relaxing to sit through 90 minutes of an imperfect mother making mistakes (again, let’s conveniently ignore kidnapping) and her child pushing boundaries, for them both to discover the importance of letting go and respecting each other.
So why else did I love this production?
Umm..the costumes and of course, the actors. Imagination Stage always gets it right. The whole time I couldn’t help but wonder, do they have sales
because I’d be the first in line to purchase some of those costumes for future Halloween’s. Again, back to the witch, Gillian Shelly, who made her Imagination Stage debut. Her costume, particularly at the beginning, with the vegetable garden incorporated into her cape, was outstanding. I coveted her green wig and her striped stockings the entire time. And her sparkly magical black ring that gave her boundless power, of course.
Jonathan Atkinson starred as Prince Brian and he rocked a Euro club look which was endlessly amusing, along with his wig. I loved that Rapunzel was not a white blond actress but instead was played by an African-American actress, Felicia Curry. The added touch of the flowers inserted into her ridiculously long braid was a great detail. And finally, last but certainly not least, was hilarious Simon, Prince Brian’s valet, played by Michael John Casey. He skillfully played several different parts throughout the show, including a grass-eating cow, but it was his smooth dance moves to charm the witch that really won me over. He was down right hilarious.
About the costumes, Director Kathryn Chase Bryer said, “There is a feeling that these tales are ancient and therefore timeless. When I began conversations with the designers about the world of Rapunzel, we all agreed that though the story takes place in ‘fairytaleland,’ this script has a modern feel to it and we wanted to capture the feeling. To that end, we have come up with some really extreme costume ideas that feel modern, even futuristic in some ways, and we juxtapose this high fashion style with a set reminiscent of a classical fairytale.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself……
Imagination Stage is marketing the play as appropriate for ages 4 and up, which of course I ignored and brought along my theatre-obsessed almost 3.5 year old. I now concede that they are right and there is no reason to bring anyone under the age of 4 to the play. With an intermission, it was easily 90 plus minutes long and the story line and lesson just aren’t suitable for the youngest among us. In short: it went over my 3-year-old’s head. The singing and the dancing were entertaining enough to keep her captivated for most of the first half but once intermission was over with, she was eager to go home. My six-year-old sat there mesmerized, enthralled and delighted the entire time. A few times I glanced over to just see her mouth gaping open a bit and sheer delight on her face, which really, is what taking our kids to these musicals is all about, right?
Ticket prices range from $10-$22 and the musical has now been extended until May 26. My advice: hurry up and purchase your tickets before it’s sold out. Purchase your tickets online or call 301-280-1660. Though I don’t review many activities, I am a theater hound and tend to review lots of plays, especially children’s theater in DC, so to keep up with more reviews and other fun, frolic and witchy ideas, “Like” the Wired Momma Facebook page.
Disclosure: Imagination Stage gifted the tickets to me but my opinions here are all my own. In short: we loved it!