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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Sleeping Beauty Wakes
So much for classics. Beauty awakes in a sleep clinic, surrounded by other sleep-tormented patients: an insomniac (Kevin Early), a sonambulist (Troy Kotsur), a restless leg syndrome sufferer (Christia Mantzke) and a night terror patient (Erica Amato). Also present are Russell Harvard, now an orderly, once the Groundkeeper's Son who is Beauty's first love, the Clinic Director (Deanne Bray) who doubles as the Bad Fairy and Beauty's father, the King (Clinton Derricks-Carroll) who has managed to wheel and deal enough magic to survive until his daughter wakes up. Tobin Ost's set design begins with stained glass windows which create a magical ambiance and morphs into the stainless steel of the sleep clinic.
Though a little long, the inventiveness and charm make the production a winner. Deaf actors mime or dance roles voiced by singing actors. All play multiple parts but the fairy-tale characters don't change much over the centuries.
Troy Kotsur, memorable as Huck's smarmy Dad in Big River, is an excellent smarmy Prince whose kiss doesn't do a thing for Beauty. She sleeps on for another thousand years. In the sleep clinic, Kotsur's sleepwalker is equally sleezy, though he does seem to interest the Clinic Director at the end, maybe because she's the reincarnated Bad Fairy (sung by Erica Amato, danced with mesmerizing menace by Deanne Bray, particularly in the hypnotic "Wheel Goes Round").
Clinton Derricks-Carroll's big voice and charismatic personality flesh out the thinly drawn King. Christia Mantzke sings magnificently as the Queen and shows comic flair as the Restless Leg Patient. Russell Harvard is a James Stewart-esque Groundkeeper's Son/Orderly, who wins Beauty's heart even though, as Clinic Director says to Father, "he may not have the potential you want." Kevin Early's fine tenor is, as always a delight, and he makes a sly baby-faced character out of Randy. Alexandria Wailes is a perky enchanting Beauty.Alexandria Wailes is a perky enchanting beauty. The musical takes the fairy tale one step beyond Beauty's awakening by a kiss. As the King mourns her delight in the Orderly and the working life, we're reminded by Bad Fairy as Clinic Director, whose charm turns out to be a creative one, that even if the older generation shrinks from the wicked world, to the young it's joy and discovery and their choices, if not good, are personal. The score by husband-and-wife team Brendan Milburn (keyboardist) and Valerie Vigoda (violinist and Voice of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White) is charming, eerie in the Bad Fairy's "Uninvited", enchanting in "Dream With Me. " Vigoda, who sings and plays the violin simultaneously and co-composed the score, comes across as a real star of this production. Milburn also plays multiple roles and drummer Shannon Ford is a hunky Sumo wrestler presence as Urashima Taro.
This is an expensive to mount show. But the music and inventive casting should insure perennial audience appeal.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide
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