Detailed, charismatic and humorous, State High Thespian Troupe’s take on the classic Grimm’s fairy tale is an accessible musical for all the family. Though it is hampered by its length and some performances are stronger than others, jaunty songs and snappy choreography keep the show pacy and plot-driven.
An unexpected adventure that twists and turns in ways that will continue to delight all
Visually, the show benefits from its large stage which caters to its larger-than-life characters. From Socrates the Dragon’s golden horns and floating wings to the evil Lady Zsa Zsa’s ever-changing wigs, attention to detail pays off, but the show never takes itself too seriously: copious amounts of eyeshadow and rosy cheeks quickly inform us which baddies to boo at. In particular, Elena Gomez’s performance as the mysterious gypsy is stand out from the beginning: her wide-eyed facial expressions that actively involve the audience – even when she’s performing as a chorus member – are engaging and humorous. In contrast, our narrator, Socrates the dragon, is a slightly misplaced character: it’s difficult to understand why he’s necessary and whether he’s meant to be good or bad (or why he’s called Socrates at all). This is likely a weakness of the script, but still isn’t helped by Nicholas Griel’s slightly one-dimensional performance.
Like so many modern adaptations of fairy tales (think Disney’s Tangled) there are references to Beyoncé, hairstyles and modern day dating throughout, which are well-received, especially by the adults. However, it is here that the show sometimes lacks some of the magic of the original fairytale. Traditional aspects, which make the tale exciting and other-worldly for a young audience, are sacrificed. At times I wanted fire-breathing dragons or a King and Queen with more of an air of traditional majesty.
An exception to this is Abigail McGuire’s Rapunzel, who is as sweet and maiden-like as a true fairy princess with a lyrical and clear soprano voice to match. Furthermore, when many of the cast run around the audience, climbing over delighted audience members and generally wreaking havoc, I, like many of the children, was excited to see such weird and wonderful characters up close. Moments like this keep the show fresh and exciting, and despite knowing the ending, we are taken on an unexpected adventure that twists and turns in ways that will continue to delight all.