I have heard so many wonderful things about Disenchanted! However, every time it’s been produced in the Philly area, I haven’t had the chance. Fortunately, Bootless Stageworks in Wilmington is producing this cleverly written ditty by Dennis T. Giancino through this weekend (closes April 6th) and I was able to catch it.
I am continually on a quest to find quality theatre in the Philadelphia area. I’ve been fortunate through Philly Life & Culture to have been introduced to some hidden gems. Bootless Stageworks delivered in many ways. This quaint little space was handsomely turned into a small, intimate cabaret style stage. Not having attended previously, it’s unclear if this formation is what they use for all productions, but it seems as if this was specifically designed for Disenchanted! by Roseanne DellAversano. Backdrop curtains in Cinderella blue that swing back and forth, sparkly three-dimensional sides in a motif much like Disney gardens, and some fantastic LED lighting (Lindsey Stevens) really exceeded my expectations for a production in a church basement!
Disenchanted! is a scripted cabaret style musical featuring the Disney Princesses all grown up in their glory. Right off the cuff you’ve got to have a little inkling of what these gals have to say. Weight management, addiction, stress, sleep deprivation, and being top-heavy to name a few! We are introduced to Snow White (Meg Felasco), Cinderella (Alicia Alaimo), and Sleeping Beauty (Samantha McNerney). As soon as we meet them, in their remarkably kitschy costumes by Roseanne DellAverano, we know exactly what kind of night we are in store for. Think Halloween’s adult line of costumes: sexy nurse, sexy maid, sexy school girl? This is down that alley just a little less Fredericks of Hollywood and more theatrically enhanced powerful women who DGAF. None of the women are sexually objectified as each princess owns their body and their story.
Felasco does an impeccable job leading the harem as Snow White. Her voice spectacular and her comic chops are noteworthy. According to the program, Felasco is also a long-time member of Bootless Stageworks whose backbone is in comedy. I can see her in an improv troupe if she isn’t in one already. Snow White’s faithful sidekick is Cinderella as dim-wittingly portrayed by another comic sassafras, Alicia Alaimo, another Bootless regular. Joining the helm is McNerney’s Rapunzel whose story-line of falling asleep is an ongoing plot line. This “hilarious hit musical” also features The Little Mermaid (another credit for Roseanne DellAversano), Hua Mulan (Mariza Esperanza), Princess Badroulbador “Jasmine” (Ann Kashishian), Pocahontas (Heather Ferrell). Belle (Ellorah Mead), and The Frog Princess (Tiara Whaley). Most women had a shining moment when singing their soliloquy like Whaley’s “Finally” at the end of Act 1, but there were also a couple misses, particularly with one woman not knowing lyrics in the ensemble numbers or struggling to hit a few notes.
With such an intimate show, Bootless did a lovely show with production value. I would note that site-lines to off stage were a bit hairy as you could see what was coming and going which took you out the moment here and there. I’m also someone who easily gets irritated with bad wigs, but it’s doesn’t matter here. Everyone is in on the joke! Be ready for a sing-a-long as well as seeing your favorite princesses in a whole new light! The seating is comfortable with wide cushioned seats and there is a cash bar in the back of the venue where one of their volunteer artists bartends for tips. Bootless is a non-Equity professional company of emerging artists.
Disenchanted! performs on Broom St. in Wilmington as St. Stephen’s Church. It’s so close to Trolley Square that I suggest you grab a bite to eat before or after the show. Run time is thoughtfully under 2 hours.
Photos by Kevin Francis.