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DISENCHANTED: A NEW MUSICAL
Managed to enchant the audience

     L-R BACK,  Eimi Taormini, Marissa Rudd, Natasha Drena, Colette Froehlich Theresa Swain, and Shannon Guggenheim, in  DISENCHANTED
L-R BACK,   Marissa Rudd, Eimi Taormini, Natasha Drena, Colette Froehlich Theresa Swain, and Shannon Guggenheim, in  DISENCHANTED

By Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy: 3Below Theaters & Lounge

SAN JOSÉ, CA -- DISENCHANTED, with book, music and lyrics by History teacher DENNIS T. GIACINO, that is being presented at the 3 Below Theaters & Lounge in downtown San José until July 21, is a musical  based on "the truth" as told by eleven fairy tales princesses, that no parent of  young impressionable daughters want them to hear.
The reason is that the musical brings the fairy tale princesses to life in our century, and what they tell the audience will debunk many of the myths that the fairy tales made us believe as children.

Because of it, those parents who put down their children to sleep at night, reading them stories from the GRIMM BROTHERS of from HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN set in magical kingdoms, where the  characters are Royals, fairies and  bad witches. the  plots illustrate "poetic justice": the  good person is rewarded, the evil person punished, and the heroine is often a beautiful girl, without a mother, whose step mother makes her life miserable. Yet the children never worry about this girl, because they know that she will be rewarded at the end, when she will meet a  prince, always "charming,"  who will fall in love with her, marry her and moved her into his castle where they will  live happily ever after.

The princesses in DISENCHANTED, however, tell the audience something different. Using dialogue and songs, the eleven princesses, who are the stars in this musical, in jest, begin revealing us their  gripes as the different princes' wives using  the idiosyncrasies of the "modern women," which are completely different than the thoughts that women had when they were  "created," some in  l805, The year when HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSON published "The Little Mermaid" and l812, when the BROTHERS GRIMM published their book with 200 fairy tales which included The Frog King, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Little Snow White. 

In the musical, all these princesses live in a beautiful castle, located at the center of  the 3Below Theaters and Lounge's stage, with DISENCHANTED written over it.  The set design was created by JULIE ENGELBRECHT. Each princess, alone or with other princesses, address the audience, and using props, tell us in words or in the lyrics of her song, all her regrets.

The princesses are:  Snow White (COLETTE FROEHLICH), Sleeping Beauty (NATASHA DRENA), Cinderella (THERESA SWAIN), Belle, The Little Mermaid and Rapunzel (SHANNON GUGGENHEIM) The Princes who kissed the frog, Princess Baldroulbador, MARISSA RUDD, and Mulan and Pocahontas (EIMI TAORMINE) making a total of ten

Directed by STEPHEN GUGGENHEIM the music  is played by  talented musicians: Band Leather, TOM TOMASELLO. Piano/keyboard TOM TOMASELLO, DON BOSCO.  Electric Bass GUS KAMBEITZ, ANDREW LAWRENCE. Drums JEROLD BITTLE and DOUGLAS LIPPI. The Production is Directed by SCOTT EVAN GUGGENHEIM.

DISENCHANTED starts when the orange curtain, on the back of  the castle's door , which is is shaped like the entrance of a tunnel, is parted by two white gloved hands  (imitating the white-gloved hands of Mickey Mouse)  and Snow White (FROEHLICH) who serves as Mistress of Ceremony, enters the stage accompanied by narcoleptic Sleeping beauty (DRENA) wearing a pink ball gown and Cinderella (SWAIN )  dressed in a light blue ball gown, and, after they explain to the audience that they got married to a handsome prince and lived happily ever after, Snow White debunks their story saying "not really," followed by  "One More Happily Ever After"  a song in which they tell the audience the reasons why they were not happy.

Collette Froehlich as Snow White
Collette Froehlich as Snow White

In their dialogue,  the princesses censure DISNEY's for using his animation cartoons movies portraying their lives, as "escapism"  from reality and as means to sell merchandise, and berate  the  Brothers GRIMM  and CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN's  because, according to them, their portrayal of the princesses in the fairy tales they wrote, may uncover their hatred of women.

So, in jest and in the lyrics of different songs, the princesses try to debunk the myths presented as truth in most fairy tales.  Among their gripes we learn in the song  "Happ'ly Ever After" that being a princess in a Fairly Tale can be a royal pain in the ass.  That living with a prince who was a Beast, drove poor Belle (of the Beauty and the Beast") to insanity, That Mulan may be lesbian because she likes girls. That the  "perfect" princess, according to the male animators, must have big tits.  That according to Sleeping Beautiful, it is hard to be beautiful. That being a princess is boring and from the mouth of the Little mermaid, that she regrets giving up her voice, her family, her friend and her fin (she had one because was a mermaid) for a pair of legs,

Natasha Drena as Sleeping Beauty
Natasha Drena as Sleeping Beauty

There are fourteen songs in the musical, but not one easy to remember at first hearing. The songs are nice, but their beat does not change much from song to another. It could have helped the audience if GIACINO, as composer, could have given each Princess a musical motif.

Directed by STEPHEN GUGGENHEIM  the orchestra sounded lively, and each one of the  singers used their well-tuned voices well. Under the direction of SCOTT EVAN GUGGENHEIM the comedy in the acting was believable. The two individual performances who got the most applause on Opening Night, were Honestly sang by TAORMINA in the role of Pocahontas,  and Not V/one Red Cent sang by  Rapunzel's (GUGGENHEIM) with the audience People loved the number and it got the longest run of applause.  

The idea of DISENCHANTED is innovative, but while most people liked the musical, there were a few that felt that all the griping from every princess frustrates the audience. In conversations, at the end during the Party some suggested the addition of the voice of a "dissident   princess" to the plot with the purpose  to create conflict among the princesses. One princess who remained living in the pages of the fairy tale, where she met a prince, got married, moved with him to a castle and they still live happily.

While being presented in NYC , in 2014,  the Off-Broadway DISENCHANTED production played to sold out houses and won rave reviews. It won several NYC nominations including "Outstanding Off Broadway Musical", (Outer Critics Circle Award) "Best of Broadway Musical" (Off Broadway Alliance Award) and "Best of the year 2014."

DISENCHANTED will be playing until July 21st at 3Below Theaters and Lounge,  288 S Second Street San Jose, CA.  For tickets and information you can go online to 3belowtheaters.com or order by phone by calling: (408) 404-7711