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Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014
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Review: ‘Disenchanted’ finds laughs in fairy-tale strife

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Happily-ever-after sure isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it can be a royal pain.

Just ask the ticked-off princesses of “Disenchanted” who are none too happy with the way they’ve been treated in films and merchandising and they’re ready to go all “Norma Rae on Walt (Disney).”

The snarky 90-minute musical, playing at the Straz Center’s Jaeb Theater through April 13, takes a satirical jab at the classic fairy tales and princesses in Disney’s musicals.

Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Pocahontas, Mulan, Rapunzel, Belle, The Little Mermaid and the (Princess) Who Kissed the Frog are all here sharing their disenchanted tales of woe with snappy dialogue, catchy tunes and an adult dose of humor.

The cast includes six talented actresses: Michelle Knight as Snow White; Breanne Pickering as Cinderella; Becca McCoy as Sleeping Beauty; Kali Rabaut as Belle, The Little Mermaid and Rapunzel; Lulu Picart as Hua Mulan, Pocahontas and Princess Badroulbador and Erika Dunlap as The One Who Kissed the Frog.

The princesses take the audience on a fast and funny ride as they shatter stereotypes in their search for true love and happiness, and what it means to be a princess on their own terms.

The frustrated women sing and dance their way through songs that deal with issues such as breast size, eating disorders, sexuality and race with a razor-sharp wit that will have you laughing out loud and thinking OMFG! (Oh, My Fairy Godmother!).

Snow White is the princess pack leader who leads the royal revolt. And her voice is regal — she kills the opening number, “One More Happ’ly Ever After” — though she can sometimes be a bit over the top.

The rest of the princesses also have their shining musical moments.

An inebriated Little Mermaid (Rabaut) laments “swapping the Seven Seas for a cute prince and “Two Legs”; a ditzy Cinderella (Pickering) just wants to eat; Belle (Rabaut, again) is forced to clean up the Beast’s poop; and the Germanic Rapunzel (Rabaut, again!) complains about getting “Not V’one Red Cent” from all the clothing, dolls and other items sold with her likeness; and Sleeping Beauty (McCoy) embraces her imperfections in the sometimes pitchy “Perfect.”

But it’s Picart who steals the show with her portrayals of Pocahontas and Hua Mulan.

As the American Indian princess, she poignantly sings “Honestly” about the historical misrepresentation of her story. And as Mulan, in the worthy-of-a-spit-take “Without a Guy,” she questions her sexuality because she’s the only princess who doesn’t have a husband.

In an all-too-brief appearance, Dunlap brings some soul as the sassy One Who Kissed the Frog, belting out “Finally,” in tribute to Disney’s first African-American princess from the film “The Princess and the Frog.”

The performance is for mature audiences because there is some salty language.

Whether you’re a Disney fan or not, you’ll enjoy watching these royal renegades shuck their tiaras and refuse to be damsels in distress.

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