By Kaitlin MacRae
It’s no secret that Hollywood loves remakes. Countless adaptations and variations of stories are told again and again, each version unique to the creative force behind it. Lisa Ann Wetzel, a sophomore arts administration major, brought her own novel spin to a classic story, scripting and performing in an unconventional take on “Sleeping Beauty.”
Briar Rose: The Tale of Sleeping Beauty (for St. Teresa’s Parish Players) puts the more sinister characters at the forefront of the story.
“The play is a musical based on various versions of traditional ‘Sleeping Beauty’ stories,” Wetzel said. “Most of the story involves the villainous characters, Avarice (the evil fairy) and her minions, Vice and Versa.”
She added that these comedic roles, combined with a fresh perspective on the story’s princess, contribute to the play’s twists and distinctive vision.
“The princess herself, Rose, is not the traditional damsel-in-distress character,” Wetzel said. “She is more of a tomboy who makes her own choices.”
Wetzel plays Avarice in Briar Rose, a rewarding experience she credits from having written the play.
“Avarice has been my favorite character from the beginning,” she said. “The emotional range and intensity of the fairy provides a challenge for an actor. The fact that I already knew her inside and out from the writing process made it exciting to explore every facet of her character in front of an audience.”
As a first-time playwright, Wetzel said the process was a tedious task that ultimately had a tremendous pay-off. With two different writing styles at hand, she and co-writer Mark Accardi learned to work with one another to create an interesting and entertaining story.
“We learned to balance each other out and spent countless hours bouncing ideas off each other and creating draft after draft of the show,” Wetzel said. “It was a laborious process, but every hour paid off when I was able to see my creation on stage.”
Briar Rose premiered at St. Teresa’s Parish on Staten Island, running from July 30 to August 2. Since its debut, the play has been “picked up for production in New Jersey,” and is currently being considered at venues both in New Jersey and New York.
This accomplishment, she adds, would not have been possible without experiences from her classes at Rider. In addition to writing and performing the play, she was in charge of merchandising and overall marketing of the show.
“From the knowledge I gained in my arts administration classes, I planned and carried out merchandise plans for fundraising, worked to market the show and arranged reporter and reviewer involvement in the rehearsal and performance periods,” Wetzel said.
Her efforts were successful; the actors performed to sold-out crowds and the show received positive reviews.
In the future, Wetzel will begin work on a musical for Pipe Dream Theater, and hopes to begin writing and performing at Rider.
“Between stage managing for The Lady From Dubuque and working as house manager for the Fine Arts Department, I have been exposed to the theater scene at Rider and I have enjoyed all of it,” she said. “I’m excited to see what the future holds.”