Belle has gone insane, Mulan is actually a lesbian, and Sleeping Beauty has erotic dreams. It’s not the most enchanting storyline of a Broadway play, but that’s why the aptly named Disenchanted musical thrived at the Broadway Playhouse (175 E. Chestnut St.).
The play centers on 11 princesses from classic fairy tales, but instead of reciting the stories we knew as children, the princesses tell us how they really feel. This is done mostly through musical numbers that highlight each princess and her true feelings about being portrayed as a skinny, brainless bimbo. The musical also features group numbers, with cast members singing about topics such as having big boobs and never being able to eat.
The humor and musical numbers were carefully crafted, and although the acting was over-the-top and some of the jokes were cheesy, the comical farce had audience members laughing throughout the 90-minute performance.
The idea of Disenchanted originated from a history teacher who was fed up with how Pocahontas was portrayed in the 1995 Disney film. Having a passion for music, the teacher wrote a song about his frustration. He ended up writing many more tunes that challenged the stereotypes of Disney princesses and the hidden messages most people unconsciously absorb while watching the classic movies. As a result, the music and dialogue take on the long overdo challenge of breaking down every princess misconception.
Pocahontas’ (Ann Paula Bautista) solo number describes her transformation from an innocent 10-year-old Native American to a double-D-sized 20-year-old with a ridiculously short dress and hair that always seems to be flowing. The Princess Who Kissed the Frog (Uche Ama) sings about how long it took Disney to create a black princess. Belle (Miriam Drysdale) sings a solo while sitting in a straightjacket because it turns out Belle is insane. (Why else would she be talking to singing forks and spoons?)
Not only was the writing crafty and hilarious, but also the singing was on point. In particular, Drysdale stood out from the crowd as her smooth voice hit every note with precision while giving each character she played (Belle, The Little Mermaid and Rapunzel) distinct characteristics.
One of the only downfalls to the production was that two of the actresses (Drysdale and Bautista) played multiple characters. Not that they didn’t do well with each one, but it would have been more fulfilling for each princess to be played by a different actress. If the production gains more popularity (which I hope it does), they should consider both expanding the cast and the performance altogether, adding in more dance numbers and storylines (Elsa and Anna from Frozen were completely left out).
But this downfall should only be a testament to the humor and entertainment of Disenchanted. Ninety minutes just didn’t seem sufficient for all the parodies. I left the theater laughing, but also wanting more.
Disenchanted runs through June 5 at Broadway Playhouse (175 E. Chestnut St.). Tickets cost cost $32.75-66.75. All are available for purchase at broadwayinchicago.com.