Twisted tiaras: Musical reimagines Disney classics, embraces princess empowerment

The cast of Disenchanted will take aim at Disney’s portrayal of classic princesses and fairy tales during its run from Dec. 8 to Dec. 10. The musical will tackle the idea that every princess needs her prince charming and denounce the “damsel in distress” image assigned to them by the media.

By Jason Mount

Students will get to enjoy princesses with a twist during Rider’s upcoming production of Disenchanted.

The musical follows multiple princesses and their unhappily-ever-afters from crowd-favorite fairy tales, including Snow White, Mulan and Tiana.

Professor of musical theater Mariann Cook said, “I was looking for a show that would feature all my amazing women. And the show offered the opportunity to cast a large group of them, all of [whom] are extremely talented and diverse.”

Cook also explained that this show helps convey a message about how beauty and the roles of women are viewed in modern society.

In this production of princesses, a multitude of royal figures is presented, including Princess Jasmine, played by sophomore musical theater major Etta Grover.

“She’s the only princess that isn’t the main character of her story, and she’s over it,” said Grover. “Jasmine has an attitude and she’s not afraid to use it. Like the other characters, she’s not happy with how she has been portrayed in the media.”

Grover did some research into her character and, understanding that Jasmine’s issue lies in her media portrayal, looked into what kind of light the princess is shown in the movie “Aladdin.”

“The story originally takes place in China,” Grover said. “Her name is actually Princess Badroulbador, but Disney changed it to be more westernized.”

Cook mentioned that a big challenge for the cast was “taking the idea of Disney princesses that the girls have grown up with and been watching their entire lives, and picturing them after the traditional stories ended.”

Breaking from the movie concept of these characters proved especially difficult because in Disenchanted, the women are portrayed as they are in the original fairy tales and not the movie versions.

While Grover did not have difficulty researching her particular princess, she found difficulty in the music.

“The score of this show is very vocally challenging and strenuous,” she said, “It’s really made me grow as a singer.”

The princesses’ “larger-than-life personalities” were hard to match, Grover said, but it proved to be an easy obstacle to overcome as the cast became more familiar and comfortable with each other.

“The cast is so much fun to work with,” Grover said. “It’s a great environment to learn, grow and make mistakes. These women are so funny and it makes the long rehearsals worth it because they’re constantly making me laugh.”

Cook added that another highlight is that the entire production staff, excluding the lighting designer, is made up of students.

“It has been a lot of fun watching the students experience the other side of the table and taking on production assignments as opposed to performing,” she said.

According to Cook, the producer of the original off-Broadway production, Randy Klein, will be attending the performances and will be able to talk to the cast and share his perspective on Rider’s adaptation.

Grover hopes that the chemistry in the cast shows in their performance and that audience members get a kick out of the show because “what more could you ask for than 14 hilarious, gorgeous women belting their faces off?”

Cook emphasized that Disenchanted is proving to be a “hysterical and delightful” cabaret that will grace the Yvonne Theater stage and that audiences should leave the show with an understanding that “a woman does not need a prince to feel good about herself, and that each woman is beautiful in her own way.”

After seeing Disenchanted, Grover hopes that the audience will be inspired to take charge of their lives and what they want to achieve.

“Write your own happy ending; take your future into your own hands,” she said. “Don’t let someone else’s perception of you limit what you think you can do.”

Disenchanted will run from Dec. 8 and Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. to Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. in the Yvonne Theater. Admission is free. 

 

Printed in the 12/6/17 edition.

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