Review by Jen Brown
Laura Wolfe and Lukas Bailey. Photo: David P. Johnson.
It's official, Theatre West is the best, particularly, when mounting shows for STORYBOOK THEATRE. These captivating players know exactly how to entertain our children and never fail to enthrall. Their fun-filled version of 'Sleeping Beauty" or "Sleeping Cutie," as my granddaughter, Cynthia, re-named it, was no exception. Please note: the new name was at the request of His Majesty the King, of course. Nothing of great importance is allowed to pass without due consideration from the little ones, making this one-hour long show a delight from start to happy ending.
The set design, as always, was simple and functional. A sunny yellow backcloth, a castle and a chair - for our heavily pregnant Queen; and anyone else who felt the need to sit down. A little splash of greenery proved a lot more than decorative later on in the proceedings.
All credit to the Costume Department for the bright, colourful garb, which suited every bright, colourful character down to the ground. A princess, looking pretty in pink, seemed just right, although my eldest granddaughter, Stella, did inquire as to what sort of princess would wear tennis shoes?!
"A princess who enjoys comfort"? I suggested, gently, and as this Cutie/Beauty ended up doing some funky, monkey moves further into the show, we concurred the footwear to be just right.
The tale began with the entrance of 'Morbid' (BONNIE KALISHER). Kalisher carried off the role with charm and buoyancy throughout. She arrived, carrying an armful of beautifully wrapped gifts and sang of how she loved receiving presents. Presents of all shapes and sizes and colours and bows! Our young audience wholeheartedly agreed with her and were happy to look after a parcel or two.
The gifts were for a baby shower for a soon expected princess. Morbid pressed home the importance of saying "Awesome" and "Thank-you" for gifts received, regardless of whether the gift is wanted. (A worthy message for our young ones!) She won our hearts and then secreted herself in the audience to await the arrival of the King and Queen.
The King (LUKAS BAILEY) and his Queen -with neat baby bump - (LAURA WOLFE), were in fine form and sang of their joy at the impending birth of their child. They donned hats and canes and danced out their happiness in style; but
the dance, proved too much for our mother-to-be queen, and she cried -
"I'm having it now!!". A worried King, ushered her hastily, to a place where babies are made - beyond the bright, yellow curtain.
Seconds later, she emerged to much excitement, pushing a pink stroller with lusty-lunged princess within. Audience participants, eager to help, willingly stepped up to assist in the changing of the first royal diaper - a smelly affair - a scene not to be sniffed at.
They named her Gertrude Cutie and everyone seemed happy except for Morbid. She admonished the royal pair for not saying thank you for gifts they received ... but the King was pacing - and the Queen was having a baby! Unimpressed by such feeble excuses, Morbid showed them the last gift of all - a banner of ZZZZZZZZZzs. She proclaimed that when the princess became fifteen years of age, she would learn to spin, and in the process, prick her finger and fall asleep for one hundred years.
And so time flew and fifteen years passed, as quick as it took a young audience member to walk across the stage with a sign telling us so! In fact, in no time at all a teenage Princess Gertrude Cutie (KIRA BRANNLUND) took centre stage, and gave a rambunctious display of confidence. She sang in praise of herself and the King and Queen approved - their adoration knowing no bounds.
In true fairytale fashion, the bad found the good and a feisty duet was sung out with relish. Our girl didn't go on to win though and instead, tackled that spinning wheel, pricked her finger, yawned very widely, and fell sound asleep. For as long as the intermission allowed. (15 minutes for Cookies and Apple Juice. Yay!)
Act Two saw Sleeping Beauty sleep on. Not even children shouting, tickling and singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Litle Star" could awaken her. The King and Queen fretted about Morbid finding their sweet girl again and in a very funny scenario attempted to hide her - I won't say where - but suffice to say a slumbering young audience saved the day!
Once again, time flew! And to our amazement, one hundred years passed in the blink of an eye, and another sign was paraded across the stage, this time by non-other than my two young charges. To leave us in no doubt that time had indeed gone by, we watched as the greenery grew as tall as the castle, before our very eyes!! (Sterling work by the Stage HAND!).
In timely fashion came along a handsome prince. (DAVID P JOHNSON). He rode a friendly steed and sang in mournful tones of being lonely and in desperate need of someone to turn to. When he eventually did 'turn' to look behind him, he found what he had been looking for. With noisy encouragement from the crowd, instructions from Morbid and even Cutie Beauty herself (talking in her sleep), he finally managed to plant a smacker on the royal cheek.
Our heroine came to life with gusto and knocked us dead with some pretty cool monkey business. The King and Queen and Morbid joined the happy pair with a song of celebration and gratitude. The couple fell in love at first sight, and naturally, will live happily ever after. (It's all we ever came for!).
Kira Brannlund and David P. Johnson Photo: Lloyd J. Schwartz
We had a blast, Storybook Theatre, and in the spirit of this fine production, and on behalf of my two granddaughters, Stella and Cynthia (Below), I offer a huge thank-you for a splendid afternoon's entertainment.
We wouldn't have missed it for the world and neither should you!
Interviews with the actors:
Storybook Theatre at Theatre West
Plenty of free parking across the street.
Through July 9, 2016 | Saturdays at 1PM
Adults $12., Children $10
Call (818) 761-2203 |
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Birthday Parties! School Field Trips!
Discounts Available for School Field Trips During the Week.
Call (818) 761-2203 for details!
3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, LA, CA 90068
Main Office: (323) 851-4839
Box Office: (323) 851-7977
Storybook Box Office: (818) 761-2203
Book and Lyrics: Lloyd J. Schwartz
Producer: Barbara Mallory
Director: David P. Johnson
Stage Manager - Leesa Freed and David P. Johnson
Photos: Bonnie Kalisher
Sleeping Beauty: Kira Brannlund and Emily Rose McLeod
Morbid: Bonnie Kalisher (
Understudy: Kerry Melachouris)
The Queen: Laura Wolfe and Julie McKay
The King: Lukas Bailey and Charlie Mount
The Handsome Prince: David P. Johnson and James Cronin