Over the years, princesses have captured the hearts of many children and adults alike. Rapunzel has recently been all the rage with Disney’s fairly new movie, Tangled, but the heroine has been around for hundreds of years. Now, the whole family can see a brand new musical version of RAPUNZEL at the Players Club of Swarthmore!
RAPUNZEL was written by the Brothers Grimm and based on the fairy tale Persinette, written by French novelist Mademoiselle de La Force. RAPUNZEL is named for its heroine, a maiden with long, flowing hair, who was locked away in a tower by an enchantress. While the Grimm Brothers’ tale ends on a rather dark note, Players Club’s version of RAPUNZEL keeps things family-friendly and upbeat. This musical adaptation tells Rapunzel’s story with comedic characters, including Prince Parsnip, Witch Sauerkraut, Pop and Mom Bean, Rapscallion, and a chorus of vegetables.
When first entering the intimate, black box theatre, I was struck by the beauty and intricacy of the set. Designed by Dan Stinson with scenic art by Lois Gordon, the scenery certainly received the royal treatment. Vibrant and detailed artistry seemed to transport audience members into a storybook. The set, complete with two gardens and a 3-D tower, began to tell the story of Rapunzel before the actors even walked on stage!
The musical started with a charismatic cast of characters explaining how Rapunzel ended up in the tower. The children in the audience were captivated immediately. It quickly became evident to me that much of the musical’s success was due to an outstanding book by Miriam Barnett Boland and music and lyrics by Martin J. Hyde. Players Club is the first theatre to perform this adaptation, and they are certainly lucky to do so. Boland and Hyde’s writing was appropriate for a range of children, yet puns and other jokes kept older audience members interested as well. Director Jessica Stinson and Musical Director Kat Lemon maximized the potential of the book and music, excellently playing out comedic moments through clever staging and charming interactions between characters. Sound by Davida Weiler-Stone and lighting by Ryan Stone added energy to the show and helped to create smooth transitions.
Another commendable aspect of RAPUNZEL is the all-around strength of the cast. They met the challenge of keeping the children and adults entertained while telling an enchanting story. With good chemistry and timing, the vivacious cast had the audience laughing right through the show! A likeable Rapunzel (Samantha Moscony) and silly Prince Parsnip (Ed Donlevie) were certainly favorites of the children in the audience. Rapscallion (TJ Deluca) and Witch Sauerkraut (Loretta Lucy Miller) really brought their characters to life, expressing the right amount of silliness. I would be remiss in not mentioning the vegetable chorus (Rosalean Gallagher, Talia Kassie, and Jessica Neal), who, by actively participating in the show and reacting to other characters at all times, added life to RAPUNZEL. Although the cast’s vocals were at times weak, their overall performances were superb. All of the performances were enhanced by the colorful costumes by Miriam Barnett Boland.
Anyone looking for a good time with their family should be sure to check out Players Club of Swarthmore’s RAPUNZEL. You will leave with a smile on your face and the urge to return to Players Club in the near future!
Book by Miriam Boland
Music and Lyrics by Martin J. Hyde
Directed by Jessica Stinson
April 27 – May 6, 2012
Players Club of Swarthmore (Children’s Theatre)
614 Fairview Road
Swarthmore, PA 19081