Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences does with ‘Princess and the Pea’ exactly what it does best
The Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences never fails to provide its patrons with new and entertaining adaptations of classic fairy tales. These shows make the perfect date for you and the little ones you love.
The Princess and the Pea, with music written by Marc Robin, book and lyrics by Rick Boynton and additional lyrics by Curt Dale Clark and Marc Robin, is the Marriott’s current production, its latest in a fine line of hour-long (give or take) children’s productions.
Boynton easily incorporates contemporary views and viewing styles into the classic fairytale plot (two people must marry and end up happily ever after). He creates multi-layered personalities for stock characters and there is even a “reality TV competition” complete with real-time announcements. Boynton’s well-threaded thematic concept for the adaptation works quite well.
Director/Choreographer Aaron Thielen moves the actors across the stage and off and on from the many entrances and exits the theatre-in-the-round provides. There is simply not a “bad seat” in the house due to Thielen’s careful and attentive blocking.
Patti Garwood lends her talents as music director to a cast and orchestra of considerable talent while costume designer, Jesus Perez continues to achieve theatrical excellence with his eye for style and head for the way the costumes are to be used on stage.
Marielle Nada Issa plays the endearing, Ruth, a young woman so enamored with books and reading that she wakes up out of a dead sleep whenever the subject of literature is spoken about. Ruth and Prince Wellington (Trevor Vanderzee) have the luxury of playing the only non-vapid or scheming characters in the musical and they do so with charm.
The antagonist’s name precedes even her easily identifiable villainy. Queen Evermean (Jenna Coker-Jones) enjoys a rigid rule over the kingdom and her son’s future happiness, her controlling nature causes her to go as far as to “fix” the competition so the most pretentious and easily-puppeted Princess Buffy (Allison Sill) will win the role of fiancée to the prince.
Sill and Coker-Jones bring on the funny in every scene with style and utmost pride. Sill‘s comedic personality evokes several of Kristin Wigg’s infamously insipid, yet hysterical characters from Saturday Night Live while Coker-Jones constructs a character-cross of a classy, older Elizabeth Taylor and any scheming soap opera diva – complete with flashy and flurried exits.
Mark David Kaplan (Papa and Biff) and Ian Paul Custer (Chester) fill out the remainder of the Marriott’s fairytale cast. Both actors thoroughly engage as supporting characters – moving the plot and scene changes along seamlessly.
Anthony Churchill and Peter Sullivan’s media designs are projected to four of the back walls of the theater. The blending of technology and live theatre is well done. The transitions between these two avenues as well as the time they co-habit the space makes for a cohesive production with media incorporated, rather than media projections that stick out like a sore thumb in addition to a live theatrical experience happening at the same time.
Anyone looking for an outing with the kiddos should definitely check out The Princess and the Pea.