Review: The Dead Prince (Strange Tree Group)

| November 27, 2013
Kate Nawrocki as Tasha, Scott Cupper as The Dead Prince, Elizabeth Bagby as The Captain, Sara Scanlon as Sallie, Jenifer Starewhich as Pea, Stuart Ritter as Wilkes, Dan Behrendt as Leopold, Cory Aiello as Diggs, Thomas Zeitner as Dennis and Michael Thomas Downey as Maldorf the Mirror in The Strange Tree Group’s world premiere musical THE DEAD PRINCE by Emily Schwartz, directed by Paul Holmquist.  Photo by Emily Schwartz.        
      
The Dead Prince

Book, Music and Lyrics by Emily Schwartz  
Directed by Paul S. Holmquist
DCASE Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph (map)
thru Dec 22  |  tickets: $15   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     


  
  

Is it for adults or kids? Yes.

     

Kate Nawrocki as Tasha, Scott Cupper as The Dead Prince, Elizabeth Bagby as The Captain, Sara Scanlon as Sallie, Jenifer Starewhich as Pea, Stuart Ritter as Wilkes, Dan Behrendt as Leopold, Cory Aiello as Diggs, Thomas Zeitner as Dennis and Michael Thomas Downey as Maldorf the Mirror in The Strange Tree Group’s world premiere musical THE DEAD PRINCE by Emily Schwartz, directed by Paul Holmquist.  Photo by Emily Schwartz.

    
The Strange Tree Group presents
    
The Dead Prince

Review by Katy Walsh 

Is it a fairytale, a folktale or a muzical? Yes.  

Playwright Emily Schwartz has concocted a play-full original.   Schwartz’s story is about a princess and her quest for true love.  The happily-ever after is challenging because her prince charming is dead.  Imagine “Princess Bride” meets “Twilight” on the way to “Weekend at Bernie’s.”  The plot is layered but not overly complicated.  The characters  are whimsical with a side of grit.  The dialogue is witty. Even the death theme is more funny than dark.  The Dead Prince is an innovative, lyrical lark.

 Scott Cupper as The Dead Prince and the cast of The Strange Tree Group’s world premiere musical THE DEAD PRINCE by Emily Schwartz, directed by Paul Holmquist.  Photo by Emily Schwartz.Director Paul Holmquist paces it with a sense of fun.  His rhythm is an upbeat tempo for this story within a story that is sung and spoken.  The terrific cast pull in their big wagon of tricks as they energetically go to work entertaining.  Elizabeth Bagby narrates the tale. Bagby and her minstrel troupe impressively change instruments, sing harmony and meld into the actual quest.  Bagby humorously sidebars something like, ‘what, you didn’t think we work our way into the show?‘  The band of misfits is zany.  And they are even dressed wacky with gypsy rags and cloak innovation by Costume Designer Delia Baseman.   

The comedy comes in all varieties. Holmquist has multiple clever touches like flying bats and the transporting of a magic mirror.  The animated Michael Thomas Downey (Maldorf) plays an evil sorcerer.  Downey is hysterical zinging line after line. The charmingly undead Scott Cupper (Prince) heightens the slapstick.  Then, there is the overarching romantic comedy.  It is double the pleasure. The earnest Ann Sonneville (Sara) pairs with the steadfast Zachary Sigelko (Will).  And Dan Behrendt (Leopold) tries to woo the feisty Kate Nawrocki (Tasha).  And they don’t just know how to tell a joke – they know how to sing…beautifully.

 Ann Sonneville as Princess Sara and the cast of The Strange Tree Group’s world premiere musical THE DEAD PRINCE by Emily Schwartz, directed by Paul Holmquist.  Photo by Emily Schwartz.

Is it for adults or kids?  Yes. The Dead Prince is billed as ‘fairly-family-friendly fairytale.’  I agree.  The ideal audience is kids too old for “Cinderella” and too young for an R-rated movie.  Parents will enjoy the amusement of it all but tweens will enjoy the merriment with a side of snark.  It’s a perfect non-holiday family outing. 

  
Rating: ★★★
  
   

The Dead Prince continues through December 22nd at DCASE Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays 2pm.  Tickets are $15, and are available by phone (312.744.3316) or online through Tix.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at StrangeTree.org(Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes without intermission)

Dan Behrendt, Michael Thomas Downey, Sarah Scanlon and Kate Nawrocki

Photos by Emily Schwartz


     

artists

cast

Cory Aiello (Diggs), Elizabeth Bagby (The Captain), Dan Behrendt (Leopold the Thief), Scott Cupper (The Dead Prince), Michael Thomas Downey (Maldorf the Mirror), Kate Nawrocki (Tasha the Farmer’s Daughter), Stuart Ritter (Wilkes), Amber Vaughn Robinson (Oh, Death), Sarah Scanlon (Sallie), Zachary Sigelko (Will the Minstrel), Ann Sonneville (Sara the Princess), Jen Starewich (Pea), Thomas Zeitner (Dennis the Accordion Player).

behind the scenes

Paul S. Holmquist (director), Emily Schwartz (playwright, photos, artistic director), Joe Schermoly (scenic design), Delia Baseman (costume design), Rebecca Jeffords (lighting design), Michael Huey (sound design, original incidental music), Zachary Sigelko (music director, music arrangement), Kitty Campbell (props design), Matt Engle (fight choreography), Noah Ginex, Sarah Scanlon (puppet design), Nic Belanger (technical director), John Kelly (master electrician), Sarah Luse (production manager), Becky Bishop (stage manager), Phineas X. Jones (poster design), Elizabeth Bagby (postcard design), Tyler Core (websmith).

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Category: 2013 Reviews, Children's Theatre, DCA Theatre, Katy Walsh, Musical, New Work, Strange Tree Group, World Premier

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