Disenchanted: The princesses strike back

Don't mess with the princesses in Disenchanted.
Don't mess with the princesses in Disenchanted.
Photo by James Detmar

While taking a look at what happens after "happily ever after" isn't a new idea, I don't know if it has been taken to such extremes as Disenchanted, the musical that carries the appropriate subtitle of "a musical comedy that gives fairy tales the bird."

The bird is flipped late in the show, during a number ("A Happy Tune?") that has Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty boldly and baldly setting up the rules they want to live by, with a whistle and a triangle used to cover up the worst of the language.

The show, created by Dennis C. Giancino, gives plenty of Disneyfied princesses a chance to break out of their narrow confines. Along the way, they comment on the way they've been portrayed in the films ("Bit Tits") and in the multitude of merchandise ("Not V'one Red Cent"), and share more general complaints about objectification and body issues ("I Want to Eat").

It also can be very funny, such as "Insane," as we find poor Belle driven round the bend by all of the talking teacups and candles in her magical house. Her madness comes to life not only through Vanessa Gamble's crazed performance, but the delightfully twisted costumes (like a muffin tin that has a distinct Dalek quality to it) that the other performers put on.

Helping out is a six-actor cast who go all-in on their characters, such as Jen Burleigh-Benz's prim and angry Snow White and Gamble's Little Mermaid, who is bitter about giving up her lovely life in the sea for a slip of a man and now drowns her pain in drink.

While the performers are universally strong and a good chunk of the show's moments work, the overall form of the piece is a bit misshapen. It feels like the creator took his original idea and just stretched it to fill a full 80 minutes instead of building it into something bigger. That makes the action drag when it should zing.

Still, there's plenty to recommend here. Bonnie Allen is a delight as Cinderella. More often than not, she's supporting the other characters, but there are moments, like a rant about how mice (including an unnamed giant one who likes to wear gloves) are just dirty vermin, where she completely takes over. Suzie Juul does a nice job of bringing energy to the always-tired Sleeping Beauty, while Joy Dolo makes the aforementioned "Not V'one Red Cent" a mid-show highlight.


Through Oct. 13
The Ritz Theater
345 13th Ave. NE. Minneapolis
For more information, call 612.436.1139 or visit online.
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The Ritz Theater

345 13th Ave. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413


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