By Fern Siegel
Imagine Belle in a straightjacket, Rapunzel as a German dominatrix and Snow White as a sassy, wisecracking ringleader of dissatisfied princesses. That, and more, comprise the musical Disenchanted, now slinging its saucy satire off-Broadway at the Theater at St. Clement’s.
A drunken Little Mermaid belts she’d “gladly dump my six-inch heels to jump back in with the Moray eels,” as her princess brethren bemoan how being sexualized — like porn stars — and trivialized, creates “The Princess Complex.”
And the audience, especially millennials who grew up on this Disneyfied slop bucket of female passivity and rescue fantasies, get the message.
Funny and a touch wicked, the book, lyrics and music by Dennis T. Giacino zings the banality of “happily ever after.” The five princesses Lulu Picart, Becky Gulsvig, Michelle Knight, Jen Bechter, Soara-Joye Ross and Alison Burns take on the myths of fairy-tale princesses, the dopey expectations of their lives — Belle of Beauty and the Beast is forced to talk to dishware — while Pocahontas is distorted beyond all historic proportions.
Disenchanted rails against the damsel-in-distress tropes, sent up by subversively zinging any of the movies that celebrate the stereotype. From Cinderella’s goofy demeanor to Sleeping Beauty’s gusto, the show re-images these women as proto feminists happy to take a swing at the Brothers Grimm.
Disenchanted is performed as a series of skits, rather than a conventional narrative. In addition to the digs at the stories, which only validate women who are “beauty-obsessed, ditzy and insecure,” it takes on the politics of color. Soara-Joye Ross is an African-American who, as the princess who kissed the frog, neatly gets her own licks in.
Michelle Knight as Snow White is a perfect host for the evening; she’s got a strong voice (as does the cast) and corrals her flock with humorous in-your-face numbers. Another standout is Alison Burns as Belle/Rapunzel and a redneck Little Mermaid — yet all the women do their characters proud.
While the show’s pop score delivers, there are a few script groaners, such as the “All I Want To Do Is Eat” number, in an otherwise clever production. But in the main, director Fiely A. Matias rounds up a talented crew and stages the lively songs to great comic effect.
Photo: Matthew Murphy …read more
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