As shows on Broadway are not currently a thing, it’s time for the rise of “off broadway” productions. Designed for small settings, these shows should thrive, away from the former crowds of a large, packed theatre. One such example is a musical subversion of the Disney princess trope: Disenchanted, written and composed by Dennis T Giacino, takes place entirely in front of a green – well, pink – screen.
The format is a talkshow, with interviews of well-known princesses interspersed with banter between the three hosts, Snow White (Jodie Steele), Sleeping Beauty (Allie Daniel) and Cinderella (Sophie Isaacs). The trio prove that chemistry has no distance, since it is unlikely they are actually in the same room, yet their personalities mesh so well. Steele, in particular, is a highlight, channelling a persona as icy as her character’s name.
The musical harmonies are princess-like, but their words, not so much. The fairytale trope has been twisted many times before and the actors try their hardest to make it their own, despite the concept not being original. It helps that the cast are unique and diverse – a far cry from the old Disney tales.
First in the interview seat is Belle (Aisha Jawando), who laments being trapped in insanity, surrounded by multilingual objects, with, for some reason, a Disney American accent. There are even fake adverts to break it up, including a perfume endorsed by Pocahontas, followed by a song about the drawbacks of big breasts. This seems counterintuitive to the message of acceptance of all shapes and sizes that echoes throughout, but it segues perfectly into Pocahontas’s (Grace Mouat) section, detailing her frustration at Disney completely changing her origin story. In a rare serious moment, the production commendably relates Pocahontas’s life in its full severity, but it becomes overdone when Rapunzel (Jenny O’Leary) sings about exactly the same thing, and Jasmine (Courtney Bowman) too – surely they have other things to be annoyed about? The best numbers are the ensemble pieces, particularly one about expectations on women, which ends in a true happily-ever-after when they order a takeaway. Giacino’s lyrics and music are done well, but the production and sound mixing could be improved upon.
Like its predecessors, the show has a moral: be who you want to be. Don’t be a princess (unless that’s who you are, of course). Sleeping Beauty’s song is a true gem – she loves herself, and that’s all that matters, and everyone can be perfect at one thing: being themselves. This would have been an ideal closer, as the actual finale feels slightly superfluous, but regardless, as Cinderella says, no one wants to sit around until midnight. Disenchanted is short and sweet (or sour). It’s not something that will be pondered for days for its groundbreaking empowering message, but it definitely kills an evening stuck at home.
Disenchanted is available to stream from 9th April until 11th April 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.