Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Next Fairy Tale, A Tale of Two Princes

Photo: Gina Torrecilla and Christopher Maikish
Photo Credit: Matthew Brian Denman


If ever a prince had his work cut out for him it is Copernicus, Prince of Sunshine, in Celebration Theatre’s The Next Fairy Tale, directed by Michael A. Shepperd. Not only must he rescue his true love from imprisonment in a tower guarded by a fiery dragon, he must do it while overcoming the obstacles of a disgruntled Fairy Godmistress, Minerva. Why on earth would she wish to thwart a good-hearted Prince in fairy tale land? Because this is no ordinary tale.

Every hundred years the magic mirror chooses which hero’s quest will become the next fairy tale and Copernicus has been chosen as this century’s hero. Just as everything in today’s world must move forward so too must the land of happily ever afters make way for a new kind of story, for this prince isn’t rescuing a princess, but a prince - his one true love, Prince Helio.

Believing that the way to win over the dragon is with kindness cards and hugs, rather than swordfights and battles, Copernicus (Christopher Maikish) begins his journey, accompanied by his own traumatized Fairy Godmother, Hazel (Rachel Genevieve), whom Minerva (Gina Torrecilla) has assigned purposely to screw things up. Hazel is determined to redeem herself after causing Little Red Riding Hood to be eaten a hundred years earlier when she was running late, but still suffers from a horrible lack of confidence.

As Brian Pugach’s story unfolds, each resident of this mythical land must decide how they feel about a never before seen love between two princes. Glinda (a glamorous Kendra Munger) struggles to do the right thing as Minerva coerces the other fairy godmothers Thistle (Stephanie Fredricks) and Moonflower (Nell Teare) to do her evil bidding. Hazel finds her self-worth on this journey of discovery and The Magic Mirror (Charls Sedgwick Hall) reflects the truth for all to see. In the end, the prince rescues his love, secrets are exposed, and everyone grows up a little in the process.

The jewel in the crown of this unconventional fairy tale is Christopher Maikish as Prince Copernicus. Ever so charming and handsome as a fairy tale prince should be, his endearing innocence will have everyone in the audience falling in love with him – boys and girls alike. He also sings beautifully in songs like “Charming,” and “Cinderella Story,” which also gives Genevieve a chance to shine vocally.

Gina Torrecilla turns in a strong performance as Minerva and Fredricks is another standout in her trio of roles as the bubble-headed Thistle, dream Cinderella, and sexy Baker, as is Teare’s vampy Moonflower. Patrick Gomez’s Prince Helio is the adorable prince locked in the tower.

Though the writing is full of potential and quite wonderful when it lands, it is also packed with so much exposition and extraneous plot deviations that Act I wanders at times without a clear vision. Luckily, the arrival of a poisoned apple at the Act break begins to raise the stakes and drive the action forward into a more fulfilling second act, and the eventual happily ever after of a brand new fairy tale.

Victoria Profitt has designed a lovely fairy tale set on the Celebration Theatre’s intimate stage creating the illusion of a much larger space. There are also some fun magical moments in the show created by Joyce Basch, “the” Ms.gician of the Magic Castle.

Vocal arrangements and musical direction are by Wayne Moore, choreography is by Jeffrey Polk, lighting design is by Matthew Brian Dehman, costumes are by Raffel Sarabia, hair and wigs are by Ronn Jones and props are by Michael O’Hara.

The Next Fairy Tale, produced by John Michael Beck, is Celebration Theatre’s first in-house world premiere musical, and is scheduled to run through April 24th. Tickets are available online at
http://www.celebrationtheatre.com/.

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