new york part two: enchanted by disenchanted

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{image is a photo of the ladies of Disenchanted. From left to right: The Princess Who Kissed The Frog, The Little Mermaid, Beauty, Snow White, Mulan, and Cinderella.}

Okay, so where were we? If I remember correctly, we were walking West to catch the matinée of Disenchanted. Let’s back up and find out how we got there, shall we? (That’s rhetorical. Of course we shall, cause I’m writing it, so it wasn’t really a question of whether or not … oh, sorry. I’ll stop now.) Moving on.

When my dad told me that he was giving Katie this trip, my first thought was that we’d have to get theater tickets. My second thought was that we couldn’t afford theater tickets. My third thought was that I’d better come up with a fourth thought because, damn it, my kid was going to see some theater.

Katie is a theater kid. She once came home elated that a friend had called her the perfect combination of a book nerd and a theater geek. Pretty much summed it up. She loves the whole experience of theater, whether it’s from the stage or the audience. She loves the community that it produces, the feeling of solidarity it engenders as people join together to make – or to witness the making of – art. She loves every bit of it. So I had an idea.

When I brought Brooke to Godspell a couple of years ago, I became connected with a woman named Erin Leigh Peck. Erin is an actress with a heck of a CV from Broadway to Off-Broadway and everything else on the way to Broadway and back. She is also a mom, and, as it turned out, an incredibly generous human being who goes way out of her way for people she’s never met. She had swooped in to save my butt when our Godspell plans were going awry and did so in a way that restored my faith in humanity. So I called Erin. And by called, I mean sent her a Facebook message, because duh.

I told her that Katie and I were coming down and that I’d love, love, love to take her to a show. I wondered if perhaps she’d have any connections that she could leverage to get us into something – anything. And, oh my God, did she ever.

She told me that she is currently an understudy in an Off-Broadway musical called Disenchanted. She explained that the humor is definitely of the PG-13 variety, but the show sounded absolutely fabulous, and, well, Katie is 13, after all, and I’d be there to, at least theoretically, offer parental guidance, right? Right.

Erin explained that the show is a Vaudeville-style satirical send-up of Disney’s Princess Complex, featuring some our favorite princesses AFTER their Happily Ever Afters. And, well, they’re not so happy about their every afters. As a matter of fact they’re downright pissed. When she asked if we might like to come to the show, I’m fairly certain I shouted YES before she’d finished typing.

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{image is a photo of Katie standing in front of the marquee. Don’t you just want to tuck her phone into her pocket before it falls out? Just me?}

When we picked up our tickets at the box office, I had to giggle. Look, Mom, I’m Press!

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{image is a photo of our tickets, comped by the theater, reading, “Wilson, Jessica – Press Comp.” Tee hee. Ed note: I was going to crop out my thumb so you wouldn’t see my badly chipped nail polish, but I didn’t because I love you and I promised to keep it real around here, chipped polish and all. You’re welcome.}

The show was fabulous. The humor was, as promised, a little ribald, but nothing that Katie couldn’t handle. The music was infectious, the talent incredible, the voices amazing, and the humor, well, bloody hilarious. But the very best part was the not remotely thinly veiled message: We’re giving our girls the wrong message.

According to a recent press release, the idea for Disenchanted was conceived by a former history teacher who couldn’t help but wonder: What would the ‘real’ Pocahontas – a circa 1616, rough and tumble TEN YEAR-OLD (yes, ten) Powhatan girl – think of the fringed deer-pelt miniskirt and long, flowing hair donned by her 20 year-old counterpart in her 1995 comeback?

A damned good question, sir. Somehow I don’t think she’d be singing along to Colors of the Wind.

From Cinderella to Mulan, each princess takes a turn in telling us just where we can put our sanitized, sexualized, and Good-Old-Boy–Americanized fantasies of their stories. And one is just more awesome, and uproariously funny, than the next.

Turns out that Cinderella would trade her kingdom for a potato chip (how else does one maintain a waist smaller than her neck?), Mulan is coming to terms with her sexuality, Belle is desperately in need of good psychiatric care, The Little Mermaid spends her days chasing the bottom of a bottle to ease the pain of having given up her life (and her tail) for a man she didn’t know, Princess Badroulbadour is pissed that you don’t even know who she is (and you should), Rapunzel wants some %$#!*@ royalties and Sleeping Beauty wants us to know what we can do with our version of beauty.

The humor is purposefully and thoughtfully politically incorrect. They take it just a little too far and then call themselves out on it. One of my favorite parts of the show was when Pocahontas made a joke and then pointed to the floor and said, “See that line here? We’ve crossed it.”

The show not only entertained the heck out of us, but it forced us to think about where our own lines are, how often we cross them, and how we can, and should, be more sensitive to a host of issues, but mostly what we’re teaching our kids. And it did it all while making us laugh. Which is a really, really neat trick. Subversive art for the win.

Oh, and the part I promised yesterday? Yeah, there’s a whole song about boobs. About how, thanks to Disney’s animation team, we’re all pretty well convinced that a generous set of hooters is all ya really need in life. Well, that and a handsome prince, but whatever. As a gal who doesn’t see much of her own belly button, I can tell you that I laughed my arse off as Cinderella lamented the woes of a big bust while wearing a pair of owls on her chest. (Hooters – get it?) Good stuff.

After the show, we waited to meet Erin and the cast.

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{image is a photo of Erin and Katie. I love how excited Katie is in this picture. Meeting a real-live human who does what she dreams of doing was a pretty neat thing.}

And then, as if this all wasn’t enough, the entire cast came out to say hi.

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{image is a photo of Katie with the cast of Disenchanted. From left to right: Michelle Knight, Becky Gulsvig, Katie, Jen Bechter, Alison Burns, Soara-Joye Ross. Front row: Karen Burthwright, Lulu Picart, Remy the dog (who does not appear to have a website), and Erin Leigh Peck.}

The entire cast, down to the stage dog, was so warm and welcoming and made Katie feel right at home among the stars. I can’t thank them enough for taking the time to make my kid feel so good. I can see why she likes this crowd so much. I know it’s not news, but theater folks are good people.

The show was fabulous and I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that they have a long, long run in which they leave laughter, empowerment, and a reminder that what’s real is what matters in their wake.

Thanks to all of these ladies, and especially to Erin, who turned out to be just as beautiful, warm, gracious and generous in person as she is on the Interwebz.  I am so grateful for her efforts and, if I dare say, our friendship. It was a day that neither Katie nor I will ever forget.

 * I was given the tickets to the show, but the review is honest. We loved it. If it had sucked, you know I’d have told you. 🙂

6 thoughts on “new york part two: enchanted by disenchanted

  1. What a fantastic experience for Katie and, obviously, for you. You’ll always have that wonderful childlike quality that I love so much! You and Katie know how to enjoy life.

    Love you,
    Mom

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