Rapunzel!: A Very Hairy Fairy Tale, the Casa Children's Theatre production that opened Friday, is exceptionally well presented in almost every detail -- from its acting to its sets and costumes.
This classic story gets a bit of a reboot in this modernized, musical version with a book, music and lyrics by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman. The heavy, an evil queen-type played by Heather Botts, goes by the name of Lady Za Za (not to be confused with Lady Gaga), for example. And the male romantic lead, Sir Roderick (Jordan Miller) has an unusually sensitive sidekick named Edgar (Tanner Lee Hanley), who is a hair dresser. When Roderick draws his sword to ward off evildoers, Edgar backs him up by brandishing his blow dryer in a menacing manner.
So there is a great deal of tongue-in-cheek humor that (although not the slightest bit naughty) might fly over the heads of some of the younger audience members.
That threatens to be a problem with this show -- it is so cleverly written and well performed that an adult might appreciate it more than a youngster. But, just when it appears this version could be slipping away from its core audience, the writers and director Jeremy Dumont pull a couple of little tricks that get the kids directly involved in the production. So, ultimately, the intended audience is served as well by the show as their parents.
It is hard to decide where to start patting the performers and crew on the back in this production. All of the acting is first rate. It may be a silly kid's show, but the entire cast takes on the material with the utmost professionalism. All of the leads sing and act extremely well. Miller, who camps up his ego-driven role perfectly, and Alison Hodgson as the over-tressed title princess, are particularly good. And Stefanie Tovar, as the Gypsy Woman (who is always having a bad hair day), pretty much steals every scene she is in.
But, as strong as the performances and direction are, you are likely to be equally impressed by the overall look of the show.
Appropriately enough, Catherine Petty-Rogers' wigs really give this show its wonderfully wacky personality. Nearly all of her contributions, and those of costume designer Tammy Spencer, are delightfully colorful, creative and outrageous.
Their efforts are showcased in a fabulous set by Katie Dill, which is made all the more visually compelling by Samuel Rushen's thoughtful lighting design.
On the whole, this show is lot better looking and is a lot more fun than you might expect your basic princess-locked-in-a-tower fairy tale to be. So kids, take some grownups with you to see this one. They will thank you for it.