REVIEW: Fairytales go feminist in Muskegon Civic Theatre’s ‘Disenchanted!’

MUSKEGON — The princesses singing, swinging and declaring their feminist emancipation in Muskegon Civic Theatre’s wonderfully fun staging of the musical parody “Disenchanted!” are not the trilling, eye-batting, sensitive little flowers as they’ve been painted in fairytale animations.
These ladies have had it with that crap. And if Disney doesn’t like it, tough mouse ears. The revenge for crossing these women — don’t even think about calling them girls — would be too (Brothers) Grimm to consider.
Pocahontas (played by Sarah Schultz) is forced to wear a low-cut costume that only a misogynist would comment upon further, but she sings a heartbreaking lament of lost innocence and legacy.
An audibly tan Cinderella (Kristi Stariha), flashing a luminous smile and wielding some mean schtick, has major issues not only with Prince Charming(s) but also that freaking glass slipper.
Inanimate objects that should have stayed that way have driven Belle (Lorrell Pepple), she of “Beauty and the Beast,” so far off her rocker that she’s tethered in a throne by the sleeves of a straightjacket.
Sleeping Beauty (Kendyl White) is zonked out to the point that a broom handle impersonating Pinnochio’s lying nose can’t wake her with a phallic poke.
You get the idea. The male animators who’ve historically depicted Snow White (Chelsea Zobl), The Little Mermaid (Pepple) and others with exaggerated anatomies that would shame hourglass Barbie into therapy might as well line up for a series to kicks to the groin.
Nuts, indeed. Not only are these princesses fed up with impossible standards, they’re no longer dependent on anyone but themselves.
And they demand equality: The Princess Who Kissed the Frog (Da’Kiya Covington) is a soul sister who figures it’s just about time an African American woman put an end to the whitewash: Say it loud, she’s black and she’s proud.
That’s the gist of “Disenchanted!,” co-creator Dennis T. Giacino’s spoof that Friday, Sept. 14 opened MCT’s 2018-2019 season.
Directed by Kirk M. Wahamaki and running through Sept. 29 at the 169-seat Beardsley Theatre in downtown Muskegon, “Disenchanted!” flips the familiar stories of 10 fairytale princesses.
Heretofore, they’ve been cutie patooties whose salvations have been dependent on handsome young men rescuing them from travails and whisking them away to a life of happily ever after.
No more. Giacino’s book and songs pull those doormats out from under the fantasies, and good riddance.
I can only judge by the portion of final dress rehearsal I saw Thursday night. (And in the spirit of full disclosure, yes, I am on the MCT board of directors).
But suffice it to say that Giacino’s music and lyrics for tunes such as “Big Tits,” a lampoon ditty sparking memories of the showstopper “Danced: Ten, Looks: Three” from “A Chorus Line,” mark “Disenchanted!” as inappropriate for children.
Everybody else better hightail it (The Little Mermaid can’t anymore) down to the show, especially if they’re up for some big laughs.
The Little Mermaid is a frustrated alcoholic so plastered she pukes. Designer Shawn Patten’s costume pieces representing euphemisms for breasts (melons, knockers, etc.) are a great sight gag. Hua Mulan (Schultz) wears pants and doesn’t have guy, so she must be same-sex inclined, right? Yeah, right.
Top that off with the fact that the ensemble, under music director Janie Glerum, can sing to beat the band, or could if there was a band. The musical accompaniment is recorded, the performers are amplified, deal with it.
The same could be said for male supremacists. Men who think a woman’s place is in the home should stay there themselves.
The rest of us can enjoy some tough dames prancing Michelle Thompson’s choreography about Wahamaki’s serviceable set, lit by Andrew Patten and sparked by a can-do spirit.
Forget the dirty old men who illustrated them. Extending an indignant middle finger to the Princess Complex, these ladies know where to draw the line.

Categories: Theatre

1 reply

  1. Correction: This article incorrectly reported the musical accompaniment as recorded. The live music ensemble is Janie Glerum on piano, Josh Bourdon on bass, and drummers Mark Lopez and Dan Cannon.


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