Disenchanted is a feel good musical, that had the audience buzzing before, during, and after the performance. The early buzzing was not really knowing what would be released on the audience. The buzzing grew during the intermission and then as people left the theatre and recognized friends, the buzzing followed up the aisle as voices combined with laughter and whispered favorite moments.
Disenchanted was an off-Broadway success story. It was “must see” up and down the east coast. It made it to Seattle a couple of years ago. A friend was involved with the production and it was a northwest hit. Director Brittany D. Henderson has moved the off-color hit about thirty-five miles south for her excellent presentation. The Tacoma audience seemed primed and ready for a good two hour bout of laughter but wasn’t sure what to expect.
The show opens with “One More Happ’ly Ever After” featuring Cinderella (Allyson Jacobs-Lake), Snow White (Brynne Geiszler), and Sleeping Beauty (Samantha Vale). Their clothing, their language and their attitudes soon begin to sink in.
Although the musical is over ten years old, most people weren’t really sure what to expect . . . still. Instead of offering up fairy tale endings and living happily ever after, we are treated to an empowering of women over all because there are darn few princes and princesses in today’s world. What we have to offer is reality and today’s world of real women . . . determined real women, who don’t care about being on a pedestal, but who want recognition of who they are and what they have accomplished. Belle (Whitney Shafer) is our first real warning shot . . . Belle hasn’t really found a throne, but looks more like a member of The Adams Family with her song “Insane.”
My wife Peg and I treated our teenage granddaughter, Sophia to the musical. As we drove home, we named the princesses we thought had the greatest impact on the performance. I’m sure the list varies with audience members, but we agreed on Q Gabumpa who played Hua Mulan, the “gay” princess, Whitney Shafer who played Belle, Sophia Palacios who played Pocahontas and complained about historical inaccuracies. Aliyah Shines who played the Princess who Kissed the Frog and became the first black Disney Princess. Aliyah came on stage near the end of the production.
Q Gabumpa (They/them) as Hua Mulan received a great hand every time she was on stage. Costume Manager Julles M and Costume Assistants Kristin Haskins, Mary Katsafanas, and Monika Newitt get accolades on the costumes, in a set that is mostly dark colors, the outfits for Hua Mulan and the rest bring color to the stage.
As a grandfather I loved Disney’s The Little Mermaid. I would play the tune “Part of Your World” on our baby grand piano and sing the tune when our first granddaughter would stay over with us. I would butcher the song and she would have a fit. The Little Mermaid (Cori Deverse) memories pale in comparison with the Disenchanted reality. Cori (she/they) played a great mermaid (keep your eyes on the scallops). The last time we saw her she was playing Lucy at CenterStage’s You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.
Sophia Palacios who played Pocahontas had her chance to “Honestly” sing about the historical inaccuracies awarded to that princess. We were first charmed by her in the 10 Minute Musicals last August.
During intermission a woman behind Peg was searching for a word to describe her reaction to the production, “It’s . . . really . . .” Peg offered the term risqué. The women continued, “That’s it, it’s really risqué.”
For me the biggest spark of the evening was Ceili Caruso as Rapunzel. Dressed as a Valkyrie with a winged helmet and a blond, four inch wide, five foot long braid. Her studded skirt and boots allowed her to tap dance around just by walking. Her Nordic/Germanic bearing gave her the advantage of ordering up an audience participation, show-stopping, call and response song: “Not V’one Red Cent.” I have no idea what the song was really about, but it seemed like the entire audience was on their feet and responding to the Germanic/nordic demands of Rapunzel who was ably backed up by Snow White and Cinderella.
Traveling all the way from Yakima, Aliyah Shines as the Princess Who Kissed The Frog had immediate acceptance by the audience. Peg and I loved Aliyah, in Cinderella Enchanted. She and Robin Mae Becar played the mean step sisters in that musical last fall . . . and everyone loved them both. Aliyah was born in Roy, Washington, so we hope to see more of her on stage.
Disenchanted had everyone in the audience talking and laughing as they left their seats. It took a while to walk up the aisles and leave. To make sure people were safe, COVID restrictions were in place. A number of seats were left vacant to accommodate safety. I’m willing to bet many people will see the production a second or third time. I don’t know about Peg and me, but I have an urge to find out what the heck “Not V’one Red Cent” has to do with Rapunzel . . . I did enjoy yelling it!
The show runs through the 20th. For tickets, please visit – tmp.org/index.php/2021-2022-tmp-mainstage-single-tickets/
We have already invited granddaughter Sophia to join us for “Head Over Heels” at Lakewood Playhouse, which opens March 3rd. Brynne Geiszler (Snow White), will be singing in this musical, also. “Head Over Heels” features music by The Go-Go’s. We hope to have not only Sophia join us but another sister or two. She really enjoyed Green Day’s “American Idiot” at Lakewood Playhouse in 2018.