Carnegie’s Disenchanted!: These Are Not Your Storybook Princesses!
Posted On July 7, 2017
Review by Dan Maloney of Disenchanted!: Carnegie Theatre
The Carnegie rounds out their 2016-17 theater series with Dennis T. Gianco’s sassy musical comedy, Disenchanted! A former history teacher, Gianco hatched the idea while giving a lesson about Jamestown. He found himself wondering what the real Pocahontas would have to say about her animated portrayal. This led to rethinking other Disney princesses, and he quickly discovered they might be equally frustrated as well! Ultimately, this not-for-children musical revue asks questions, “What happens when Prince Charming isn’t and happily ever after doesn’t work out?”
Snow White (Sara Kenny), Cinderella (Allison Evans), and Sleeping Beauty (Blair Godshall) anchor the show, which takes the form of a cabaret night where each Disney icon has an opportunity to air their grievances through song. Mikayla Renfrow and Gabriella Francis give tour-de-force performances as a multitude of contemporary princesses, and Brittany Hayes rounds out ensemble with a show-stopping number as the Princess Who Kissed the Frog. In their own right, each of these women are strong performers, and they never let the energy drop.
Ms. Kenny’s fierce Snow White is a great contrast to Ms. Evans’ flighty Cinderella, and Ms. Godshall finds the humor in Sleeping Beauty’s sleepiness. There are plenty of other surprises and gags along the way (some work better than others), and I want to be careful not to spoil them. However, I will say Ms. Renfrow’s mischievous Mulan incites uproarious laughter, and Ms. Francis’ drunken Little Mermaid might have been my favorite re-interpretation of all. It was brilliant.
That’s not to say the show is without faults, however. There’s little plot to speak of, and there isn’t dynamic change within any of the characters. The uniting force seems to be anger – at men, society, or really anything that stands in their way. Yes, it’s hilarious at times, and the strength of these six women, both vocally and in terms of character development, makes up for a lot. This can be attributed to director Jodie Schwegmann-Meyn, who does her best to drive the show through the characters. Still, the script has the feeling of, “I’ve seen this before” and “Can’t there be something more?”
To me, the show’s better suited for a bar or storefront than a standard season, particularly in an historic venue like The Carnegie. The play has all the hallmarks of a strong Fringe piece, and in fact, that’s where it debuted – the 2011 Orlando International Fringe Festival. The difference here is the production values are all much higher than a typical Fringe show. Tyler Gabbard’s set is a fantastic silhouette of the Magic Kingdom, and Cheyenne Hamberg’s costumes do a wonderful job of putting an edgier spin on the classic characters. Moreover, Erik McCandles’ lighting provides the perfect accent to the various songs. Carnegie artistic director Maggie Perrino’s choreography is a lot of fun, and Erin McCamley’s music direction is on the money.
At the end of the day, if you grew up on Disney princesses, enjoy a little irreverent humor, and want to see six gifted performers singing their hearts out, this show is for you! But when they wish upon a star, it should be for a more developed story to support their efforts and drive home their enduring message. They’ve earned it.
Disenchanted! plays at The Carnegie through April 9th. For tickets, call the box office at 859-957-1940 Tuesday-Friday 12:00-5 PM or visit www.thecarnegie.com.