REVIEW: Sleeping Beauty

Kate Wilford and Phil Fiorini in SLEEPING BEAUTY / Photo by Ryan Kurz
Kate Wilford and Phil Fiorini in SLEEPING BEAUTY / Photo by Ryan Kurz

The holiday season is a time for family friendly shows more than any other. Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati and producing artistic director D. Lynn Meyers has committed to bringing “non-denominational, multi-generational” shows to audiences each season and once again, SLEEPING BEAUTY is a home-grown production. Written by Joe McDonough and David Kisor, this original take on the fairy tale was commissioned for ETC a few years ago and has been restaged on a marvelous set by Brian C. Mehring.

Some things of note:

  • The harmonies of the three good fairies (Sara Mackie, Brooke Steele, and Denise Devlin) are outstanding.
  • I could watch Phil Fiorini (“King Stefan”) and Kate Wilford (“Queen”) have morning coffee and be entertained. This is twice now that I’ve been enraptured by their chemistry together.
  • Deb Girdler (“Wisteria”) is as villainous a character as you’ll see this season and she is delightfully evil.  Michael Bath as her “Falcon” is – as always – there for welcomed comic relief.
  • Intern Diedre Manning as “Briar Rose” is a brilliant actress; in fact this whole company does a really nice job with this material, bringing it to life with an exuberance and energy that others might struggle with.
  • I thought Act Two was better than Act One.
  • I love the costumes, especially “Wisteria’s” wig and fingers.
  • I like that Lynn Meyers surrounds herself with such talented people and gives them a home to create art in.  She, along with a really strong cast, her assistant director, Dallas Padoven, musical director Sean Michael Flowers, and choreographer Dee Anne Bryll have done a beautiful job with this material.

While SLEEPING BEAUTY has never been my favorite fairy tale but I do think that for families with younger children, this production might be more engaging and easier to introduce them to live theatre than A CHRISTMAS CAROL or even ELF.  I’m not exactly the target audience.  I will admit, though, that there two different times where I felt emotionally affected by the action on stage and it was due to the marvelous work of Wilford and Manning.

SLEEPING BEAUTY runs through January 3rd.  Tickets and more information can be found here.  It runs just about an hour and twenty minutes with an intermission.  

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