Riverwalk's 'Beauty' takes 'Shrek'-esque turn
In the brothers' new careers in their public relations firm, they edit fairy tales to show the prince in the best light in the original children's production "Sleeping Beauty" at Riverwalk Theatre, which opened this weekend.
The combination play and musical is a comical adaptation of the traditional fairy tale. It follows Prince Charming's quest to win the heart of a fair princess after being heartbroken by Rapunzel who ran off with her hairdresser.
The Brothers Grimm cajole Prince Charming to enter "Save the Princess Day," an event hosted by Sleeping Beauty's three fairy godmothers. It's been 100 years since the princess pricked her finger and fell into her legendary sleep. The day features a bake sale, dunk tank, frog-kissing booth and finishes off with a competition between three princes to save the snoozing princess.
Prince Charming needs more than a little persuading to face the wall of thorns, riddle and dragon conjured by the evil fairy, Sneezeweed. According to the story line, Sneezeweed is a witch disguised as a fairy and she is trying to join an evil witches' association with her cronies, Nettle and Narcissus.
Luckily for Prince Charming, the fellow princes he competes against are really no match for him. Prince Chic is too concerned about his good looks to dirty his clothes on the wall of thorns and Prince Cro-Magnon is too dumb to solve Sneezeweed's riddle.
The entire play is a cute, updated version of the classic fairy tale, adding modern twists along the way. Periodically short breaks for a word from the "sponsors" promotes jester hats. There also is a sequence of jokes about how Sneezeweed turned her ex-boyfriend into a wolverine and now works as a mascot.
It's a bit like "Shrek," mixing in one-liners for the kids and other adult references for the older crowd, such as referencing the most popular shopping day of the year Black Friday. This makes the play fun for all ages.
Even college students might enjoy pretending to be a kid for about an hour and a half. It's a good break from the stress of finals to laugh along with a crowd full of kids for a bit.
"Sleeping Beauty" was written and directed by Bruce Bennett, a Lansing-area local who is no stranger to the Riverwalk Theatre. A few seasons ago, Bennett wrote and directed an adaptation of "Rapunzel" in the same style as this production. For "Sleeping Beauty," however, Bennett teamed with Lynne Palmer Warren, who wrote and directed the music.
"Sleeping Beauty" will continue at Riverwalk Theatre, 228 Museum Drive in Lansing, this Friday-Sunday and December 9-11. Performances are at 7 p.m. on Fridays, and 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets cost $7 for adults and $5 for children and can be purchased in advance at www.riverwalktheatre.com or (517) 482-5700.