These are not your daughter’s Disney princesses!

By on February 6, 2019

This Little Mermaid (Rori Nogee) may or may not have a drinking problem. (LNP file photo)

“Disenchanted” is not for the meek or faint of heart. It’s loud. It’s naughty. And it may be a little scary for die-hard Disney fans. An infant by musical standards (it’s only been staged off-Broadway since 2014), it’s been making waves due to its hard-hitting vaudeville-esque nature, and musical lyrics that skewer the plotlines of nearly every Disney film since “Snow White.”

The show pulls no punches. It exposes sordid truths about the secret lives of Disney princesses. It questions things. Why doesn’t Belle have a French accent? Wasn’t Pocahontas only 10 years old when she met John Smith? Why did it take so long for Disney to introduce a black princess? Why did Mulan really dress like a boy? And — most ponderous — does a girl even need a prince charming to live happily ever after?

Was Lancaster ready to be “Disenchanted?” Artistic Producer Mitch Nugent thinks so.

“Prima’s new venue is home for the culturally adventurous,” he said. “Disenchanted, with all its sass and hilarity, isn’t something we think Lancaster is ready for…it’s what patrons have been asking for. A bit on the risqué…something that wakes and shakes us up. Life’s too short for bland events. Our aim is to be a place that invigorates lives, including through the power of laughter…and in this case, through the lens of some strong women!”

Bradon Long of FOX43 (second from left) poses with three of his princesses (left to right) Jordan DeLeon as Pocahontas, Sydney Rose Hover as Sleeping Beauty, and Angela Griswold as Cinderella. (Image from Facebook)

Walking into Prima was like walking into a party. In fact, I can’t remember ever feeling so welcome at a show. Inside the venue is Culliton Stage, where round tables for the company’s biggest patrons are set up down front. But, despite this, there are no bad seats in this hall — especially when members of the cast leave the stage and roam the audience freely during the show.

I’m not going to lie. I’m the kind of girl who likes to know what’s she’s in for. I always read my program. I was disappointed that the song titles and show order weren’t provided. (Being lazy, it also makes reviewing easier. Thank heavens I’m good at Googling.) However, as the show progressed, I mostly understood the need for surprise.

Aside from the fact that “Disenchanted” made much-deserved and totally appropriate jokes at Disney’s expense, I marveled at the skills of Rori Nogee (who shouldered the roles of Belle, Rapunzel and The Little Mermaid) and Jordan DeLeon (who played Mulan, Pocahontas and Princess Badroulbadour (a.k.a., Jasmine). Both ladies made each of their roles unique and memorable.

I loved “All I Wanna Do is Eat,” a tune that not only had all six actresses involved, but lamented the fact that Disney princesses are expected to have totally perfect figures. I also enjoyed the jazzy “Secondary Princess,” sung by Jasmine — who wasn’t really the star of “Aladdin” — who belted this out as a musical treatise to every woman who feels like a supporting character in her own life.

Picking my favorite performer was tough, as the entire cast was rock solid. As a plus-sized woman, I was thrilled with the casting of Sydney Rose Hover as Sleeping Beauty. But for me, the most memorable performance was Angela Griswold’s Cinderella. Discounted initially as the Stan Laurel of the bunch, her physical humor, and the fact that she had some of the best lines in the show, kept me thinking about her long after I’d gone home.

Disney fans know that each princess has her own colors. Tiana’s gown is green; Cinderella’s is pale blue; Belle wears yellow, and so on. Though the actresses weren’t dressed exactly like their on-screen cartoon counterparts, costume designer Diane Nugent made sure their identities were unquestionable. And now, I totally want a pair of pink, sequined keds, just like Sleeping Beauty’s. The three-man, offstage band (Paulino Contreras, Steve Katone, and Luke Leonard) was flawless. I loved the lighting, designed by Tim Moser, and executed by Hudson Moser. Bold, primary and secondary colors, used freely, were not a distraction, but well-timed plot furthering vehicles.

Warning: “Disenchanted” is not a show for kids! I wouldn’t recommend taking anyone under the age of 16. That being said, there exists a cleaned-up high school version of the show that I’d love to see a local school tackle (Linden Hall, are you listening?) The show is a perfect fit for Disney lovers and Disney detractors alike. It moves fast, hits hard, and will keep you guessing, questioning, and laughing.

I can’t wait to see what Prima does next.

Tickets are available online at primalancaster.org or by calling the box office at 717-327-5124. Upcoming shows include “Godspell” in April and “Jekyll & Hide” just before Halloween.

Melissa Hunnefield, features editor, welcomes your comments at mhunnefield.eph@lnpnews.com.

Mulan, played by Jordan DeLeon, questions her own sexuality in song. (LNP file photo)

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