by Christine Swerczek Aug. 5, 2016
What do you say about a 95 minute long musical parody about Disney’s favorite princesses? A lot. The Candy Project’s production of the Dennis T. Giacino DISENCHANTED! combines his clever lyrics and energetic musical score with their talented cast and crew to create a fun, satirical romp through the stories of Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and all their princess pals.
Co-directed by Kaitlyn McClincy and Noah Diaz with musical direction by Jenn Tritz and accompanied by Sara Collins, the cast is blue blood. Each princess is completely different. Each is likeable. Each is talented. By the end of the show, I am fond of them all. This is a pack of princesses I can appreciate.
Melanie Walters, veteran Omaha actor and well-established choreographer, takes the lead as Snow White. Her ability to, as she says, ‘
boss gently guide and nurture the creative spirit,” comes through as Snow White directs this ensemble of disenchanted princesses. She is a powerful presence on any stage, no matter how large or tiny.
And speaking of tiny stages, the venue Flixx Lounge, is worth a visit. It is a quaint little bar in downtown Omaha that probably has a lot of stories to tell of its own. The Candy Project set up a runway down the center lined with chairs and headed by a small platform up front. Draped fabric in the well-known colors of Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty hangs from the ceiling as a makeshift backdrop. Rope lights line the stage and runway. The effect is simple, but the stuff of fairy tales.
Alissa Walker as Cinderella is delightfully sweet, happy, and dippy. Midnight, according to Cinderella must be about 9:10 because that’s halfway through the night. A smile never leaves her face and it coerces us to smile with her. Her voice is lovely. She’s light and fragile like her glass slippers.
Katy Boone, the narcoleptic Sleeping Beauty, cracks me up! Something about her makes me burst out laughing with her slightest facial expression or awkward move. She has a tremendous gift for humor, but also has a strong voice.
Samantha Quintana, doubling as The Little Mermaid and Rapunzel, is not just a princess…she is Queen of the Stage. Her vocals are exceptional. Her acting is excellent. I am a huge fan. Whether she is glittery in her mermaid garb or dressed as the Germanic Rapunzel, she rules. The Little Mermaid (aka Ariel) is a beer drinking aquatic who regrets having two legs, and muses about serving her pal Flounder as sushi. Her voice was definitely not surrendered to Ursula, because she is full force. As the intense Rapunzel with the unibrow and the riding crop, Quintana is at her funniest! She leads the best number of the night, “Not V’One Red Cent” by Rapunzel, Snow White, and Cinderella, a hilarious number with audience participation thrown in. I was crying.
Aguel Lual, captivates as The Princess Who Kissed the Frog. When she sings “Finally,” she takes on the big “W.D.” for finally going Black…holler! I had previously enjoyed her performance in the Omaha Community Playhouse production of “CAROLINE OR CHANGE.” This young actress seems to have everything going for her.
Whitney Hansen, Hua Mulan, delights the crowd with her rendering of “Without the Guy,” a song wondering why she is the only Disney princess who does not end up with the guy. Although it’s very funny, the ending made my throat catch; maybe because there was too much truth in it. But a little salt always sweetens the sugar.
Samantha Shatley- a crazed Belle; Therese Rennels- Princess Badroulbadour also known as Jasmine; and Alma Ramos- a beautiful Pocahontas, round out this superb nine woman ensemble.
Shatley’s interesting quirks are emphasized by her misapplied red lipstick. Who would have thought Belle to be insane? Yet, this innocent princess who formerly kept her pert nose in books, marries a beast and picks up his poop. No wonder Belle has lost it. Keep your eyes on Shatley’s facials.
You won’t miss Rennels’ entrance! Upon her rather unconventional appearance, she complains of being assigned a secondary role to a street rat, and mentions political correctness (you don’t want to offend anyone.) Her costume is clever and Rennels uses it brilliantly.
Alma Ramos as Pocahontas is the gentler, quieter princess. Although she isn’t quite up to the silly over-the-top antics of the others, she is a striking presence and I would love to see her in more productions. Walker’s Cinderella provides the laughs in Pocahontas’ number through her introduction of some woodland creatures.
DISENCHANTED may be a social commentary on the men who “make films with their flies” or design female characters with big breasts and small aspirations, but it is still music to the ears and laughter to the bones. I highly recommend an evening at the Flixx Lounge with these enchanting people!