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April 16, 2017

REVIEW: Disenchanted! The Hilarious Hit Musical at The Plaza Live


Who doesn't love a Disney story? Even if the tales we associate with Disney didn't actually originate there, Disney is the company that breathed new life into many classic stories, and made them household names - evergreen stories that we all know and love... stories that fill us with warmth, hope, strength and victory. But, truth be told, Disney is also the company that bastardized these tales. Oh, they call this "re-imagining", right? Re-imagining... that's cute.

Like most everyone, I grew up on Disney stories - taking them at face value and dreaming of the love, enchantment, and triumph of good over evil leading to dreams coming true and the inevitable happily ever after. Then... I had my daughter. My daughter loves a fairy tale, but she is all about classics and originals. She loves Hans Christian Andersen and The Brothers Grimm - and as she's aged, she's developed a strong distaste for the Disney spin on stories like
Cinderella and The Little Mermaid. We have talked at great length about creative liberties, and Disney's apparent obligation to shine sunshine on everything, watering down the original delivery. (I do admit to a burning curiosity over the aspects they re-imagined to erase elements of horror that probably wouldn't have been well-received by the sugar-coat-seeking masses when compared to the fact that they never felt the need to re-imagine the pattern of brutal deaths that led to nearly every primary character being a child orphan... but I digress.) My daughter helped me to see that the Disney reality is such a muddled mess of misconception and Stepford-like perfection that it kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth at times. Furthermore, when you really stop and analyze the typical Disney-spun tale, the patterns and underlying messages begin to emerge in a much more unsettling way.

If Disney's magical touch has left you feeling disappointed, disillusioned, disturbed, disagreeable, disgusted, disconnected, discontent, disengaged and disgruntled like me - you'll thoroughly appreciate Disenchanted! The Hilarious Hit Musical

Let's put a little "Bill and Ted" style twist on this for a moment... humor me, here. How do you think proud young Pocahontas would feel about her sizzling depiction by Disney? Why were talking cars and bugs given starring roles in Disney lore before an ambitious woman of color? Do these ladies really feel that burning need for a man? What if the princesses weren't so obediently perfect? What if Belle were insane, Ariel a bitter drunk, and Mulan an emboldened lesbian? Things that make you go "hmmm", indeed! If the Disney ladies were all real and present in the modern-day, how would they perceive their legacies? This is hysterically and insightfully addressed in Disenchanted

While it is absolutely riddled with snark and biting wit, Disenchanted is also remarkably thought-provoking due to its peppering of somewhat unfamiliar truths. The show removes the rose-colored glasses that have been clouding our vision from our formative years, replacing them with 20/20 bifocals presenting a whole new world (no Princess Badroulbadour puns intended). 

The original music featured in Disenchanted is fabulously flawless. Featured princesses each have their turn telling their individual stories musically, with combo performances interwoven throughout. Did you ever think you would see a quartet of Disney divas singing about their primary assets in a tune non-ashamedly entitled "Big Tits"? Yep, they went there... and it was a festival of belly-laughing fits. All of this brought on by nothing more than a witty take on reality. Simplistic genius!

I would be completely remiss if I failed to pay due credit to the phenomenal ladies who brought these lovely incarnations to life. The performance we saw at The Plaza Live featured Shelby Ringdahl (Snow White), Daniella Richards (Sleeping Beauty), Madison Hayes-Crook (Cinderella), Quashaea Marie (The Princess Who Kissed the Frog), Ann Paula Bautista (Hua Mulan, Pocahontas, Princess Badroulbadour), and Madison Tinder (The Little Mermaid, Belle, Rapunzel). There was not a weak link in the bunch. These ladies were just incredible. From their soaring voices to their outstanding expressions - they just nailed it!

Disenchanted! The Hilarious Hit Musical has got to be the funniest, most creatively insightful stage show I've experienced in years. It's empowering and enlightening. It's fantasy-meets-reality-meets-snark-meets-social awareness packed into 95 minutes of non-stop laughs.

Disenchanted continues its run at Orlando's The Plaza Live through April 20. For more information, or to purchase tickets, click here. To learn more about Disenchanted! The Hilarious Hit Musical, visit the official site, or follow along on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.