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Windy City Times 2023-12-13
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  WINDY CITY TIMES

'Sleeping with Beauty' serves up naughty holiday laughs

by Brian Kirst
2023-11-27

This article shared 1925 times since Mon Nov 27, 2023
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Seasonal British pantomimes have been securing the talents of such known performers as Henry Winkler, George Takei and Sir Ian McKellen for decades now.

This inventive recounting of fairy tales, utilizing popular song, comedy and rowdy audience participation, provides a sure way of taking these established professionals out of their comfort zones and into new performing adventures.

Nicely, the star wattage in PrideArts' current panto Sleeping With Beauty is provided by a group of local, up and coming musical theater artists. They're a cheery crew who will definitely help you usher in the holidays with some unusually fun, deliciously risqué entertainment.

Here playwright Tom Whalley takes the traditional Sleeping Beauty tale and gives it tons of X-Rated twists. Christened Aurora in Disney's 1959 film, Whalley reimagines his princess as the sexually curious A'Whora. Expectedly, this young lass is doomed to die on her 21st birthday by the evil, socially neglected Malefic**t. Naturally, the flirtatious Queen Clitoris, A'Whora's mother, is determined to stave off this disaster with the help of the sweet, sexually positive Fairy Hanny. This proves to be a challenge, though, due to the enthusiastic blunders of Muddles, the court jester, and the vain, ego blind Prince Albert, A'Whora's intended groom. Of course, the cheery call and responses provided by the audience members could change the outcome at any moment. This is a joy-filled tactic that keeps everyone on their toes throughout the show's zanily paced hour-and-a-half running time.

With unflagging energy, director Bryan McCaffrey brings this whole enterprise to life. Rooted around phallic scenery and costume designs, courtesy of dementedly inventive creators like Brett Baleskie, Emma Ferguson and Vicki Jablonski, McCaffrey takes his cast skillfully, through their paces (and multiple costume changes). Choreographer Kristine Burdi, meanwhile, brings out her subjects' innate athleticism in numbers that range from "Padam, Padam," Kylie Minogue's latest club stomp, to Mariah Carey's seasonal trick or treat, "All I Want for Christmas is You."

All of the above, though, would be pointless without the show's super- committed cast members. Even the understudies are doing wonders. Saturday night's performance was guided by the almost flawless Bryan Fowler, who seemingly stepped in at the last minute, as Muddles. Fowler had the audience in his hands and executed one of the show's coolest last act reveals. Of the others, Danielle Jean's Fairy Hanny is spot on with her delivery, both sonically and as a twinkly joke teller. Neill Kelly brings naughty haughtiness as the Queen, contrasted by the spot-on darker hues provided by Korinne Yonan's lasciviously bad Malefic**t. Rounding things out, Tyler Meyer and Joey Prette, as the Go-Go Boys, are the colorful ornaments on top of this storefront theater tree. Their enthusiastic routines will make you want to dance through the winter months with lots of (dirty) joy in your hearts!

Sleeping With Beauty runs through Dec. 17 at the PrideArts Center, 4139 N. Broadway. More information is available at www.pridearts.org .


This article shared 1925 times since Mon Nov 27, 2023
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