The cast of Grown Up Fairy Tales: Shaken Not Stirred. Photo: Company Outcast.
Grown Up Fairy Tales: Shaken Not Stirred
By JoAnn Sweeny, Martin French, Shauvon McGill, & Marcy Zeigler
Directed by Shauvon McGill
Review by Keith Waits
Entire contents copyright © 2018 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Director Shauvon McGill stated in his curtain speech that he feels Grown Up Fairy Tales: Shaken Not Stirred well represents the mission of Company Outcast, which is to provide the opportunity for people who find it difficult to get cast in theatre to be in theatre. Questions of height, weight, skin color, and gender are given less weight in casting decisions, but it begins with original material that capitalizes on non-traditional casting. What’s important is that the players have the requisite skills. As the title suggests, all of it is comedy, and these guys have game.
We are provided two young girls as Narrators, one in a good girl dress (Mianna Smith) and another in plaid pants and black t-shirt (Lila Schaffner). Their patter throughout the evening was fun, although some of the repeated jokes wore out their welcome – it’s just not necessarily as funny the third or fourth time, but they were charming, and Lila Schaffner’s got great timing.
JoAnn Sweeney’s Three Gruff Women confronts three women (Ali Gautier, Kelly McCoy, Nicole Greenwood) in a tech support office with a hostile male caller (Casey Moulton) making inappropriate sexual suggestions. He is passed among the three until the older supervisor is able to put him in his place with an unexpected twist. Exactly how enters spoiler territory, but Sweeney nicely captures the female camaraderie and undermines the perceived power in the mind of remote sexual harassment – with laughter.
Two stories are narrated via videotaped segments, with hilarious contradictions in the details. As Martin French relates the tale of Bluebeard, he has the title character warn his new wife not to go into the “west wing” of the estate, which then becomes the “east wing” and then the “east tower”, an inconsistency turned into a good sight gag. And when JoAnn Sweeney tells us about Bearskin, a small interruption from her pre-school age son is kept in. Darren Harbour manages the lead in both pieces with aplomb.
It underscores an embrace of a certain shaggy-dog, spontaneous quality in the storytelling emphasized by improvisational comedy segments between the scripted plays in which audience-suggested fairy tales are realized in a loose, irreverent fashion. “Jack and the Beanstalk” was one choice, rendered in four minutes, then one minute, and finally 15 seconds. It is a common improv game and the “Fairy Tale Players” made it hilarious. While all of them were good, I have to hand it to Ali Gautier for her uproarious, golden-egg-laying goose.
Mr. McGill took on Rapunzel in his A Burden Unique To My Generation. David DeSpain replaced the extended golden locks for a Rip Van Winkle beard. As with Three Gruff Women, the narrative is far removed from its inspiration, taking a while to register exactly which fairy tale was involved until late in the action. But the contemporary satirical commentary works
The finale was more direct, a gender-swapping, musical Beauty Of The Beast with book and lyrics by Marcy Ziegler, with music by Ziegler working with Derek Carpenter, Kevin Hines, and Donnie Arbuckle. It was introduced with a ruse of drawing two volunteers (Michael Rediker and Marcy Ziegler) from the audience that seemed unnecessary and pointless, since it became quickly apparent that the pair were rehearsed and prepared for the roles, and…oh yeah, they were very good! I think Ziegler’s ending poses more questions than the audience may be prepared for after the lighthearted tone of everything that has come before, slyly inviting you to open your mind while overtaken by laughter. I’m still thinking about it.
Grown Up Fairy Tales is a very clever and resourceful reconstruction of the fairy tale narrative for this moment. By taking stories upon which we base our entire understanding of what IS a story and turning them inside out, Company Outcast is preparing us for further explosions of tradition in future productions.
Featuring: Lila Schaffner, Mianna Smith, David DeSpain, Ali Gautier, Nicole Greenwood, Darren Harbour, Kelly McCoy, Casey Moulton, Derek Carpenter, Kevin Hines.
On a side note, the loose tone of the production emboldened one audience member to raise their digital camera above their head several times throughout the evening to photograph the onstage action, an unfortunate and inconsiderate distraction for those (including this critic) sitting behind.
Grown Up Fairy Tales: Shaken Not Stirred
March 29 – April 8, 2018 @ 7:30 PM
The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
Louisville, KY 40205
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX 97.1 FM / ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.