Drowzy book and score hinder “Sleeping Beauty”

By: Campbell Tuel ~Head Copy Editor~

Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati (ETC) brings back its beloved “non-denominational” holiday classic with a twist.

Local playwright Joseph McDonough and composer and lyricist David Kisor create a “fractured fairytale” in the form of Sleeping Beauty, based on the French fairy tale by Charles Perrault.

Sleeping Beauty - cincinnati dot com
ETC’s Deirdre Manning performing the role of Briar Rose in “Sleeping Beauty”

The set, simple yet effectively constructed with multiple levels and pillars, allows for a dynamic and easily-viewed performance from high up in the audience. Brian C. Mehring’s design creatively represented a “far-far away” castle and provided multiple entrances and exits for Director D. Lynn Myers’ actors to utilize.

ETC’s talented acting interns made multiple on-stage appearances with Deirdre Manning as Briar Rose, Terrance J. Ganser as Princes William and Edward and Xavier alumnus and former Newswire Arts & Entertainment Editor Patrick Phillips as the Dragon.

While the book was occasionally slow and tepid at parts, performances from Phil Fiorini
(King Stefan), Queen Olivia (Kate Wilford) and Falcon (Michael G. Bath) had near-perfect comedic timing to draw laughs from a captive audience during “Thorn In My Side” and “I’m A Dragon.” Deb G. Girdler’s Wisteria was spot-on evil with twisted fingernails and Medusa-like hair. She stomped, slunk and stole the kingdom and the show with dazzling performances of “Wisteria’s Curse” and a terrifying “Cursed Be The Name – Briar Rose.”

Sara Mackie (Marigold), Denise Devlin (Lilac) and Brooke Steele (Daisy) played a large, tender role as Briar Rose’s stand-in caretakers, blessing-givers and narrators the performance who showed the audience that it only takes one person to make a difference. Costume Designer Reba Senske and Wig and Makeup Designer Kelly Yurko pulled out all the stops with artfully crafted, detailed costumes from Wisteria’s intricate wig to the buckles on Kadeem Ali Harris’ (Bud) shoe buckles.

Each costume looked custom made and were perfect compliments to the characters and libretto. The cast did an excellent job carrying on through a relatively boring score and occasionally and hilariously broke the fourth wall with metatheatrical references to Pippin, the desire to be an actor and a non-gender specific monarchy.

ETC’s holiday show is perfect for small children, complete with a sock puppet “dragon” where audience participation is a must, but don’t let that stop potential viewers. “Sleeping Beauty” awakens the inner-child in everyone and leaves audience members feeling inspired to enact change in the community, making it perfect for the holiday season.

“Sleeping Beauty” runs from Dec. 3-Jan. 4, and tickets can be purchased at http://www.ensemblecincinnati.org.

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