Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Princes Charming (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

Imagine a mash-up of all (or most) of the classic fairy tales--Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, etc.  Only this is something of a sequel, with a few original characters tossed in as well.  You might be thinking Once Upon a Time or perhaps Into the Woods.  Cannot blame you!  But this instead is a delightful play which feels a tad more in tune with Fractured Fairy Tales (if you were ever lucky to see that series of cartoons).

The Princes Charming tells of two brothers, twins born to a King Frederick (Max Marsh) and his beloved Queen Isabel (Ashley Snyder).  As a side note, this marriage seems more than a little odd, but in a fun--and kinky--way (as peasants and servants played by Mikaela Moody, Reno Muren, Cadence Whittle and Daniel Joo could evidently attest!).  Said sons are Arthur (Jared Wilson) and William (Tor Brown)--handsome, spoiled, talented and not evil but hardly very mature when it comes to the opposite sex.  The royal parents worry about this and arrange a series of blind dates with suitable princesses--which generally go hilariously wrong.

Does this sound funny?  It does to me, but the final product ended up sparking a lot more laughs than expected!  For one thing, the whole thing has a narrator, the Minstrel aka "Minnie" (Bree Pavey) and at times the character realize they are in a play--which opens up and explores loads more avenues of gags high and low, visual and witty, etc.  Much of this centered around the newest stage hand Bob (Cameron Britton).  Comedy so totally depends on chemistry and rhythm the fact all the cast so perfectly captures it remains a major reason why we the audience laughed.  And kept laughing!

Case in point--one scene has the Royal family discussing everything going on while following some kind of coach lead them in a series of movements somewhere vaguely in the manner of Tai Chi.  It added a nicely surreal touch, but I just lost it toward the end when the movements began to be those of the macarena (heyyyyy!)

Likewise many kudos to Lauren Spelling who plays all the princesses (save one) Arthur and William have to meet.  Have you ever considered for example how Sleeping Beauty would feel finding out one day she was a princess after being raised on a farm?  Or how your average person would react to a princess who claims to have conversations with birds?

As far as the plot goes, the two brothers are told the first of them to fall in love and get married will inherit the throne.  Naturally enough, this creates a sense of competition, but then the truth comes out--King Frederick and his Queen are the central characters from Beauty and the Beast.  If the boys don't fall in love soon, they will slowly turn into beasts!  Or not so slowly as it turns out...

To top all that, William has fallen in love with a peasant girl (Jordan Wynter) while Frederick's best friend King Roland (Jon Tosetti) along with his "beastly" daughter Griselda (April Morrow).  See those quotation marks?  There for a reason...

Instead of resting on the laurels of a perfectly good premise, the whole show (written and directed by Mitch Rosander) builds on it, piling one wacky gag or sly joke after another until finally our narrator literally tells us we're out of time and we have to make room for the next show.  Good thing, too, because by then we're exhausted from the amount of energy on that stage!

The Princes Charming plays at the Sacred Fools Black Box, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd. (about two blocks west of Vine) Friday June 17 2016, 8:00 PM, Monday June 20 2016, 8:00 PM and Wednesday June 22 2016, 6:00 PM.  Unlike most Fringe shows this one runs about ninety minutes.

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