Disenchanted – Better than a Little Debbie snack cake

Meet actress Lulu Picart. I’ve been lucky enough to see her on stage in fabulous American Stage in the Park productions, including “Hair” and “Rent”, among other shows. Her voice, wit and sarcasm are awesome. Here she is dressed as Mulan in “Disenchanted”.

lulu

When I first heard about the Straz show “Disenchanted”, I thought it might be fun to see since we are so steeped in Disney at my house. We saw Snow White sing a bit from the show when we saw “Book of Straz” – the preview of the whole Straz season.

Then my friends started seeing the show and telling me it was hysterical.

DD1 wanted to see all sorts of princesses for her 17th birthday, so I took her to WDW for photos and autographs.alicebirthdayI thought this adult show about disgruntled princesses would be a funny way to tie all that up with a bow.

As it turned out, however, DD2 recently performed at Straz in the Florida State Thespians competition, and SHE heard how funny “Disenchanted” is while there. So when I got two tickets, DD1 said she already got to see princesses, and DD2 seemed more excited about it, so I should take her. Ahhh sisterly love. Isn’t it great when that works out?

Then I got there… opened my program… and saw Lulu Picart’s name! Suddenly my expectations shot way up and I was even MORE excited about laughing till my mascara ran alongside one of my favorite daughters.

We sat in the Jaeb theater – the 3-story, intimate theater at the Straz Center with tables and chairs (so you’ll order food and drink) instead of traditional theater seating. There’s not a bad seat (unless you are short and stuck behind a tall person), and the audio was great.

The 3 princesses with the most stage time are Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

Snow White had my favorite costume. I wish I could find a photo of the lace-up, skirted back for you. Snowwhite

Cinderella had the best facials – her expressions stole the show early on. Cinderella

And from the first song you know this is NOT a Disney production. Snow White asks the audience, “Do I look like the type of girl sitting around waiting for her prince…   [beat] to come?” These princesses are pissed off and use vulgar hand expressions. They whine and groan and snap at each other.

And then Lulu came out to sing. In the production we saw, she played Mulan, Jasmine and Pocahontas at different times. She sang about trying to be culturally sensitive and historically accurate. Some of it was touching, and some was crass. Here’s an example of one of our favorites bits – albeit out of costume:

Watch Mulan come out of the closet as Lulu Picart sings “Without the Guy” from Disenchanted!

(I hear Mulan from the ABC show “Once Upon A Time” is also gay. I don’t watch it though.)

Not only did we laugh through the show, but we bonded before and after the show while walking the grounds of Straz. I listened to more of her thespian stories. Her troupe earned 2 perfect judges scores for their eerie and disturbing one-act, “The Insanity of Mary Girard”, and a Superior for their group musical number “Magic to Do” from Pippin, in which my daughter did hoola hoop tricks through the song. She fears accidentally letting the hoop fly into the audience and decapitating someone during her performance. Here she is in [and without] her “Mary Girard” mask:wendy

We also picked apart “Disenchanted”. I thought it was odd that Tiana from The Princess and the Frog had such a small role since she was singing about the glee of Disney finally having a black princess. TheOneWhoKissedTheFrog

Did “Disenchanted” make the same mistake as Disney by leaving her last and make her part short? But as it turned out, she seemed to be kind of stuck in stage-fright-mode. As beautiful as Ericka Dunlap and her smile are, she seemed either brand new to the stage or at least to this show. She also lacked the laid-back attitude of the other Princesses, with a more proper persona like a theme-park princess may have.

My daughter actually nit-picked Lulu and said at times she seemed bored while singing. I didn’t pick up on that at all, but she has me starstruck. After the show I was lucky enough to get her autograph when a friendly employee (who will not be named) agreed to take my program and Sharpie backstage. “She just wants Lulu’s autograph?” one of the other princesses asked in mock-shock, “What a b!t$h!”

My daughters were totally brought up on Disney Princesses. Does this mean they have a complex to be super cute, eat poison fruit, and be comatose until a guy on a steed comes riding by? At ages 17 and almost 16 I think I can say “I don’t think so.” Although DD1’s boyfriend does occasionally call her Princess as a pet name. I grew up playing Barbies and I didn’t want huge boobs and a tiny waist. I did want blonde hair, but that was due to Olivia Newton-John playing Sandy in “Grease”.

My daughters were not raised one-sided. Once on a 4 hour road trip (and 4 hours back) with DD1, we got the audio book “Just Ella” by Margaret Peterson Haddix from the library and enjoyed that. Ella is now engaged, living in the castle, unimpressed with the way women are treated, and wants to help her tutor create refugee camps for those left homeless from their country’s war. When “Twilight” was all the rage when they were in Middle School, I would only let them read it if they discussed all of Bella’s poor choices with mom. And along side their Cinderella and Snow White dress-ups, they also had Peter Pan and Captain Hook costumes.

In fact when I told DD1 I was writing this post, she said, “I don’t wait around for a guy. They see my hotness and just flock to me.” Good self esteem? Check! ✔

Anyhoo… If you want a great adult night at the theater, I highly recommend you check out “Disenchanted!” at the Straz Center in the heart of Tampa, playing now through April 13th. Then it will move on to off-Broadway NYC. It is my understanding that every time it’s brought to stage it’s a little different. Sometimes there’s an Esmeralda or a Tinkerbell. Sometimes Rapunzel is black. It even went through a name change (no more “Bitches of the Kingdom”). Catch this version ASAP!

For more information, email the Straz Center at tickets@strazcenter.org or call the Straz Center Ticket Office at 813.229.STAR (7827) or outside the Tampa Bay area at 800.955.1045 or visit www.strazcenter.org. You can also follow the show itself on YouTube or Facebook.

I received 2 tickets in exchange for this review. The opinions are my own, the photos are not.

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