The story of Sleeping Beauty gets a whimsical fun-filled touch at Puppet Co. With its trademark sometimes snarky banter filled with modern references and sensibility, the company tells the timeless, age-old tale highlighting the unfortunate effects of uncontrolled anger.
Instead of a mean ugly witch, two sister fairies have the magic touch and get as much attention as the Princess herself. Identified only as 12 and ( unluckily numbered 13), they stroll the land trying to stay out of mischief but usually create more havoc and mayhem than peace and tranquility, mainly because of 13’s lack of self control. Despite her loud and hearty protests about trying to control her anger, she dishes out some unprovoked doosies, turning the Royal storyteller into a sweet tempered frog and then doing the renowned number on the beloved Princess Briar Rose.
Fairy number 12 is on constant damage control offering asides to minimize the devastating effects. What the fairies lack in diplomacy they more than make up for in attire, dressed to the hilt in cranberry tailored suits with matching high feathered hats. The Queen is also beautifully attired, by the way, in a crimson brocade dress with a matching sun- protecting umbrella, fringed tassels and all. (All puppets, costumes and set are designed by the always remarkable Allan Stevens who also directed; MayField Piper, who has the sweetest voice for the Princess, created the costumes.)
No detail was spared on the exquisite costuming or carefully displayed set cascading with roses trimming two archways and the backstage ramp leading to an upper level of action– or more like inaction since that’s where Briar Rose is beautifully perched for her century of sleep.
Closes March 23, 2014
The Puppet Co.
7300 MacArthur Blvd.
Glen Echo, MD
1 hour with no intermission
Thursdays thru Sundays
These kinds of sophisticated touches ratchet Puppet Co.’s productions to a special place in family entertainment. They don’t get stuck in nursery rhymes or mindless pablum to youngsters. Instead, there’s a constant effort to keep everyone fully engaged by elevating the artistry and the message, and this production is no exception. There was apparently a conscientious decision to devote more time on the backstory, replacing the usual ornery witch with fairies who for the most part bring good wishes and graceful gifts to the royals. When a lapse in judgment results in one feeling left out and spurned, however, well, Hell hath no fury of a fairy scorned. As such, the menacing undertone comes from a place of choice, and possibility of redemption and change instead of requisite meaness and evil.
There’s also more attentiveness to the Kermit the Frog-like Storyteller, nicely operated and voiced by Joshua Aaron Rosenblum, who serves as a witness and mascot of survival, making do with the circumstances of his new fate in very touching ways.
Thirty years is a long time to keep dreams coming true with rods, strings, creativity and lots of imagination. (Even the logo design for the 30th Anniversary reflects the company’s artistry and charm.) The entire season promises to be filled with enchantment and treasured fun too good to miss. The promise of spring temperatures assures perfect conditions to enjoy Hansel and Gretel, Pinnochio, and my all time favorite, The Wizard of Oz. As seen in its 30 year history, with the Puppet Co., quality family entertainment is closer than you realize.
Sleeping Beauty . Adapted for Puppets by Duane T. Bowers (w/special acknowledgement to Laurie Gilkenson) . Directed by Allan Stevens . Produced by The Puppet Co. . Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson.