THE LIGHT PRINCESS (Tony Lawton with Ugly Stepsister): 2015 Fringe review 43

Tony Lawton, THE LIGHT PRINCESS, promo imageYou 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.

 

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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.