Rise and shine, because Rachel Sheinkin (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) has blown a breath of fresh air into a classic fairy tale giving us Sleeping Beauty Wakes playing at the McCarter Theater until June 5, 2011, and has made it relevant for today’s audiences. In Sheinkin’s alternate version, Rose (a.k.a. Princess Aurora, Briar Rose and Sleeping Beauty), didn’t get the true love’s kiss of Prince Phillip to awaken her. Her father requested a spell to be put upon him to live until she awakens, and after 900 years he brought her to a sleep disorder clinic in hopes of finding a cure to break the spell.
There were four patients at the sleep disorder clinic. They were checked in by an orderly for observation of restless leg syndrome, night terrors, apnea, and sleepwalking. After they met the doctor and settled in, the king walked in with Rose, whose presence somehow enabled the patients and orderly to have an interesting dream. I loved the dynamics of the cast, and the personalities of the characters. Standouts for me were (the doctor) Kecia Lewis-Evans’ powerful voice; (Rose) Aspen Vincent’s incredible body movements and facial expressions, especially after trying to walk after 900 years, and (the orderly) Bryce Ryness’ innocence, and beautiful contemporary dance movements in the dream sequence ending the first act. Honestly, the entire cast had many wonderful moments, and all have great voices.
Under the direction of Rebecca Taichman (The Scene), the audience will be amazed by the dream sequences, use of technology, and lighting on the intimate Berlind Theater stage. Sleeping Beauty Wakes is a musical; therefore, the music and lyrics by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda (of the band GrooveLily) are essential, and work very well for this piece. My favorite song was I Dare Say I’m in Love (listen here). I loved the choreography of Doug Verone, especially in the dream sequence ending the first act. The costumes, use of projections, and set design were all fabulous, and added incredible depth to the production.
Overall, Sleepy Beauty Wakes at the McCarter Theater is a funny musical with great effects, which will thoroughly entertain you. I am recommending this to all of my friends, and I suggest you buy tickets before the best seats have been taken. Take a look below at this mini-documentary Wide Awake: The Making of Sleeping Beauty Wakes.
There are three social events in conjunction with Sleepy Beauty Wakes. There is a Pride Night on Thursday, May 12, 6 PM, an After Hours Party Friday, May 13, 8 PM, a Girls Night Out on Thursday, May 26, 5:30 PM, and a Dinner and Theater combo on Wednesday, June 1, 2011. Check here for info. There is also a free Dialogue on Drama event on Sunday May 8, a free In Conversation event on Saturday, May 21, and Post-Show Discussions on May 11th and 15th.
If you take a photo of yourself distributing Sleepy Beauty Wakes promotional materials (details) in FIVE LOCATIONS, and post them to McCarter’s Facebook page or e-mail them, McCarter Theater will send you a pair of FREE tickets to Sleeping Beauty Wakes.