Studio 3 Theatre for Young Audiences RapunzelBy Genie Baskir • May 15th, 2012 • Category: Reviews
Studio 3 Theatre for Young Audiences
Workhouse Arts Center, Lorton, VA
Through June 30th
1:30 with intermission
$12/$8 Children under 12
Reviewed May 12th, 2012
Friends we are fat! Fatty fat….we collectively carry around enough avoirdupois to fill the Burj Dubai. Chester Cheeto must be defeated. But how do we vanquish the lovable, but deadly, orange fuzzy, you ask? What will conquer our craving for the enemy who nourishes our souls, but pads our tushies, with teeth staining, neon colored powdered cheese coating and extruded corn like product? Vegetables…lovely ripe, succulent, delicious, colorful vegetables. But vegetables are very expensive and we are still paying off college loans having only graduated in 1976. How do we get our vegetables? By selling our children to witches! Witches are more than happy to supply our daily recommended allowance of garden made nutrition and they don’t want money…only children. How come I didn’t know about this before? Do they take husbands too? I’m sure it doesn’t hurt to ask.
I found out about this at Studio 3’s Rapunzel at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA. And the opinion is ….awwww … (cue doggies, kitties and Judith Lieber handbags)….. how charming…..
Director Caren Hearne has fractured the time-worn fairy tale and recreated a delightful and humorous experience for children and their adults. The Workhouse Theatre is a beautiful space that can transform itself from black box to proscenium arch complete with legs and that ability is used to superb effect in Rapunzel. Our Witch (Kindra Cook) here is a parody of a parody….Witch Hazel from the late Jay Ward’s Fractured Fairy Tales….. and she is as threatening as the cauliflower she trades for the Baker’s daffy wife’s (Amanda Spellman) daughter. Cook has a voice as strong as her beautiful profile and she takes over her Witch’s duties with obvious pleasure as she extorts the baby for vegetables (I wish I had known, I like veggies…). Jesse Baskin as the bumbling Baker is very funny as he tries to appease his wife who is about 26 months pregnant as the show opens. Baker and Spellman have great chemistry in their bumble and daff and the children loved watching their scenes. The adults weren’t complaining either.
The witch raises the girl she names Rapunzel, after a lettuce involved in the vegetable trade, in a closed tower so that Rapunzel will not see or be seen by anyone or anything. This is popularly known as attachment parenting. The turnip doesn’t fall far from the tree, however, and Rapunzel (Ashley San) is as daffy as her rutabaga stuffed, biological mother. However, all of that towering isolation and no scissors leaves Rapunzel with hair so long that it is the only means of accessing ingress to and egress from the tower. Trust me when I tell you that there is plenty of hair and everyone is getting into and out of the tower with it…go see the show and you’ll see what I mean. I was exhausted just watching all the climbing.
Rapunzel is sort of bored day after day in the tower and takes up singing. She is heard through the forest by the handsome Prince (Eben Kuhns) and his faithful manservant, The Squire (Jason Krage). They are able to elude the vicious two-headed Monster (Anna Jackson, Chris Galindo), rescue Rapunzel, do something wicked with the Witch and everyone lives happily ever after…just as always. There’s a lot more to this story, but it’s not my job to tell you all that.
Hearne has created a perfect storm; sophisticated enough for the grownups, yet charming and ingenuous for the children. She relies on professional discipline to gentle and humorous effect because comedy is not funny. The Witch may be casting the spell but it is Baskin as The Baker who transforms himself into a glassy-eyed, floppy, gurgling guppy gasping for air without water and turning green at the gills. The Prince and The Squire are reminiscent of The King and his Man in Spamalot; dopey enough to be comical but valiant enough to save Rapunzel, her parents, the Monster and the forest from The Witch. Remember how they got to Broadway? There was an abundance this afternoon.
The show was inclusive of the audience from Hearne’s opening announcements to the Prince and his man hiding in the audience from The Witch and the Monster. The children shouted out hints and warnings about the action and Reviewer’s own daughter even contributed by complaining that she wishes she had been named after a lettuce instead of Thomas Jefferson’s maternal great-grandmother. I suggest Fiddleheads.
The set was as charming as the show and the technical crew did it justice. Hearne was Reviewer’s snarky daughter’s Director about 10 years ago in an exercise we can commiserate over together after all these years of not seeing each other and she has not lost her attention to detail and touch for comedy. The costumes were pristine, colorful and new.
There’s not a lot more to say about Studio 3’s Rapunzel except that it is disarming and an innocent way in a guilty world to spend some time with children…preferably someone else’s….before we trade them to The Witch for broccoli.
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your lovely hair.”
In one sentence we are transported to a magical place where men are princes bent on rescue, being confined is a tragedy, witches are clearly evil and girls have amazingly strong and glorious hair. To children it is all so clear in a fairy tale what is right and what is wrong, and that it is all true for them. That life really can work this way. As adults, sadly enough we see a little more grey area. I like our version of the story of Rapunzel because not everything is what it seems to be. It does make you ask why a little bit. Although Tam sure that many of you as parents would like your children to stop asking “Why?”. But you can turn the tables on them this time and ask them “Why?”. Why is the witch evil (or is she)? Why is the monster called a monster (and what is a monster)? Why it is that Rapunzel doesn’t know things? Why does the Baker’s Wife give up Rapunzel? Our version of Rapunzel tells the story with much humor and also much heart. It is in the silly humor and jokes that we get to see the real people of the story and how they really feel. And it gives us the chance to see that fairy tales can be tales of people that do turn out beautifully.
I hope you enjoy the fun.
Photos by Melanie Beus
- The Witch: Kindra Cook
- The Baker: Jesse Baskin
- The Baker’s Wife: Amanda Spellman
- Two Headed Monster: Anna Jackson, Chris Galindo
- Rapunzel: Ashley San
- The Prince: Eben Kuhns
- The Squire: Jason Krage
- Understudies: Barbara Lawson, Jason hammock
- Artistic Director, Director: Caren Hearne
- Lighting Designer: Joseph Wallen
- Composer /Sound Designer: Alex Aucoin
- Stage Manager: Kevin Laughon
- Assistant Stage Manager: Katie Cairns
- Costume Designer: Kristen Jepperson
Disclaimer: Studio 3 Theatre for Young Audiences provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/8065.
Genie Baskir is a theatrical producer. She worked in radio production and direction for many years and gravitated to theatre when family members became involved with the stage.