In Disenchanted! (★☆☆☆☆), an endearingly fired-up Snow White (Candice Shedd-Thompson) leads Cinderella (Molly Rumberger), Sleeping Beauty (Karen Kelleher) and a crew of fairy tale princesses determined to take back control of their narratives by singing the real T about getting the guy, not wanting the guy, or whatever the case may be.
Creator Dennis T. Giacino’s book, score, and lyrics for this parody of happily-ever-after fantasies aren’t exactly toothless. There’s bite and badass intent behind the royal coterie’s musical revue of songs like “Big Tits,” sung by the central trio with Pocahantas (Sally Horton). But director/choreographer Matt Conner’s production at Creative Cauldron falters on multiple fronts, starting with the musical accompaniment. The three-piece band led by musical director Elisa Rosman packs very little bite, or swing, or bottom, or pick your term for beats and melodies that move you, into the disenchanting renditions of Giacino’s Broadway genre-hopping score.
The revue purports to tell a thought-provoking story of what the ladies call the “Princess Complex,” the inward and outward pressure to play the part of damsel-in-distress. But the songs, and the direction, generally opt for obvious jokes and moves, and dated winks about the battle of the sexes that don’t especially serve the story. And since the numbers are played and sung just adequately, the score keeps revving up without ever taking off — from the stale girl-group doo-wop of “Insane!,” with Belle (Amber A. Gibson) contemplating the practical and domestic aspects of beastly lovin’, to the ersatz country-pop ballad “Two Legs,” led by the Little Mermaid (also Gibson). At least Rapunzel (Gibson, again) stirs up frothy fun with the cabaret rag of “Not V’One Red Cent.”
The Princess Who Kissed the Frog (Ashley K. Nicholas) sings “Finally,” in which she exults that the studio was at long last ready to “bet on black.” A one-note nod to Disney’s first black princess (Tiana in the 2009 feature The Princess and the Frog), the song ignores that movie’s fabulous gumbo of bayou style to dully spoof Dreamgirls R&B. It’s the more accessible musical reference, but stale by comparison, yet of a piece with the flat characterizations rendered by the script and more than one member of this royal court.
On the bright side, Shedd-Thompson is a confident mistress of ceremonies as Snow White, and Molly Rumberger creates winning comedy out of her dim-bulb Cinderella. She makes the character funny and builds from there, not just by slinging broad boob humor and off-key revisions of a famous fairy-tale dame.
Disenchanted! runs through Oct. 27 at Creative Cauldron, 410 South Maple Ave. in Falls Church. Tickets are $20 to $35. Call 703-436-9948, or visit www.creativecauldron.org.
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