You would expect a collaboration by Tony Lawton, Matt Pfeiffer, Aaron Cromie, Dave Jadico, and Alex Bechtel to be smart, inventive, and hilarious. And it is! Presented as a musical workshop reading (and therefore this “review” is more of a reaction), Lawton’s exuberant adaptation of George MacDonald’s 19th-century Scottish fairytale is a treat for all ages, with witty current references, clever puppetry (Cromie and Jadico), a fabulous score (Bechtel) and lyrics (Lawton) that pay homage to the rapid-fire tongue-twisting patter songs of comic opera, and uproarious portrayals of multiple courtly characters with a range of British accents by the sensational ensemble.
Tabitha Allen is well-cast as the frivolous guffawing Princess, cursed with a lack of gravity by her wicked-witch aunt (played with evil gusto by Bechtel). Her concerned but ineffectual parents (Cromie is the King and Jadico the Queen) bring in a pair of laughably pompous men of learning (also played, with the aid of puppets, by Cromie and Jadico) to find a cure, but in the end, it is the love of a devoted Prince (Bechtel) that will heal her. Pfeiffer’s spot-on direction shows his expert timing, fine attention to comedic detail, and a beautiful shift to the heartfelt moral of the didactic ending. Lawton’s narration (replacing the usually dry read-aloud stage directions) sets the stage and the tone, and is an added delight to the reading. When a work-in-development is this terrific, I can’t wait to see the full-stage production! [Lantern Theater, 923 Ludlow Street] September 11-13, 2015; fringearts.com/the-light-princess.