Fairy tales are perfect fodder for tweaking, updating and having fun with. The musical team of Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman, who specialize in fairy tale-spun children's musicals, do all of those things with Rapunzel! Rapunzel! A Very Hairy Fairy Tale, now playing in a spirited production at Casa Mañana Children's Theatre, directed and choreographed by Jeremy Dumont.
We attribute the familiar story to the Brothers Grimm, although they, like Shakespeare, collected story lines from other source material. And like the Bard, they made them better. All of the elements—princess with exceedingly long hair trapped in tower, dashing prince, dragon, evil queen—are here, given a synthesized score with a few standout numbers, such as the country-tinged "It's All About Me."
The kids in the audience won't care about the music, but they, along with the adults, will be dazzled by Tammy Spencer's fantastic(al) costumes, Katie Dill's storybook scenic design, and Catherine Petty-Rogers' wigs and hair design for the women.
They'll go gaga for the acting and vocal performances, and rightfully so.
Greg Dulcie plays the puffless dragon, Socrates, cursed not to tell princess Rapunzel the truth about her captor. Alison Hodgson is a delightful Rapunzel (and the hair gags are hilarious). Jordan Miller plays the somewhat dimwitted prince who saves her, Sir Roderick, and Stephanie Tovar is a crazy-lovable Gypsy Woman.
But as usual, the boring ol' do-gooder princes and princesses of fairy tales aren't the characters we love the most.
Heather Botts plays the evil would-be queen who hopes to be coronated with the crown that Rapunzel should get when she turns 18, provided she can be found. The evil woman's name: Lady Za Za. Yep, that's intentional, and the outrageous wigs and outfits, not to mention mentions of song titles like "Born This Way" and "Edge of Glory," get big laughs.
In a clever bit of subversive subplotting, the musical's creators make the Prince's sidekick, Edgar (Tanner Lee Hanley), a hairdresser. He's effeminate and, of course, his accouterments come in handy when it's time to solve the problem of using Rapunzel's locks to help the story have a happy ending. He wields scissors, blow dryer and hairspray like a knight uses a sword and shield in battle.
The message: Be accepting of all types. Not only is it simply the right thing to do, but you'll never know when you need the help of someone who's not like you.