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DISENCHANTED! at MusicalFare is an enchanting distaff diss of Disney

THE BASICS: DISENCHANTED! the musical by Dennis T. Giacino, directed by Michael Wachowiak, starring Brittany Bassett, Amy Jakiel, Melissa Levin, Jetaun Louie, Ember Tate, and Chrissy Vogric-Hunnell runs Fridays October 18 and 25 at 8 p.m., Saturdays October 19 and November 2 at both 4 and 8; with one Sunday matinee, October 27 at 2 up front at “The Premier Cabaret” at MusicalFare Theatre, 4380 Main Street, Amherst (839-8540) Tip: Enter off Getzville Road. Adult themes, language (and beverages available). This is not a kiddie show. Runtime: 1 hour and 55 minutes (they mention that in the performance) with one intermission.

THUMBNAIL SKETCH: It turns out that the Disney princesses, you know, Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and others don’t think the stories of domesticated, helpless females waiting on some random prince or “Mr. Right” sends the right message in the 21st century. These women are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore and they’ve got a thing or two to say to Walt and his minions. DISINCHANTED! is fresh and funny and irreverent as hell, with clever lyrics, costumes, props, and staging.

THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION: Well, I’d already seen a play on Thursday and a musical on Friday and I had concert tickets for the next day, Sunday, so when Saturday rolled around I wasn’t really sure about going to DISENCHANTED!. I mean there hadn’t been a lot of publicity about it and it wasn’t on the main stage at MusicalFare so it sounded low-budget and blah, blah, blah. But, two of my favorite actors, Amy Jakiel and Brittany Bassett, were going to be in it and there was a 4 p.m. matinee and (did I mention Amy Jakiel and Brittany Bassett?) so I went online and bought a ticket. Best $44 I’ve spent in years ($30 ticket, $3 handling, two seltzer waters with lime wedge plus tip; parking is free).

Since it was just I, the hostess suggested that I might like to sit on one of the six tall stools at the back wall. I had my doubts (my folk-singing days of sitting on a stool are long gone) but these were incredibly comfy and I had an unobstructed view of the stage which was, despite the word “cabaret” (I thought that meant just a microphone or two on a bare stage) cleverly constructed by Chris Cavanagh with a sort of backstage area (Kristen Benner, Stage Manager), and three curtained openings, which were used to good effect.

So, first off, kudos to Michael Wachowiak, the Director and Choreographer. Lots of really funny stuff and shtick and even puppets when Chrissy Bogric-Hunnell is singing as the Little Mermaid, sitting on a blue plastic beach cooler full of beer, while Bassett and Jakiel sing backup vocals and display adorable clam puppets. And, during (the German) Rapunzel’s big number “Not V’One Red Cent” (about how she gets zero royalties despite her braided-hair image being on millions of products) the chorus comes out with Bob Fosse’s “Cabaret” chairs. Willkommen! DISENCHANTED! is just full of little stuff like that.

The dynamic Drozd sisters’ scissors must have been smokin’ for the past few months because the costumes, hair, wigs, and make-up felt so right for each Disney character.

The dynamic Drozd sisters’ scissors must have been smokin’ for the past few months because the costumes, hair, wigs, and make-up felt so right for each Disney character.

Basically, Amy Jakiel as Snow White is the emcee, aided and abetted by her ditzy pal Cinderella (Brittany Bassett has a lot of fun with this) and, when they can wake her up, Sleeping Beauty (Melissa Levin). Joining them, with each princess/heroine getting a solo number and also participating in the group songs were Jetaun Louie as, in turn, Pocahontas, Princess Badroulbadour (you probably know her as Princess Jasmine) and Hua Mulan, who likes to wear pants, not that there’s anything wrong with that. And Chrissy Vogric-Hunnell is a gone-round-the-bend Belle, the Little Mermaid who drinks like a fish, and the aforementioned Rapunzel. The show stopper at the end of Act I was Ember Tate as The Princess Who Kissed the Frog (a character introduced by Disney in 2009, long overdue).

Each of these actors has comic chops and beautiful voices but at the curtain I was even more impressed by Amy Jakiel than before. Her timing, her expressions, the way she can hold for the laugh but not a nano-second too long, it’s all there. If you’ve been to the Artie Awards show where she co-hosts you’ve seen her in action, but most people don’t get to that once-a-year event. This is your chance to find out what you’ve missed. And to think I almost missed this show that has a strong message delivered with a lot of laughter and good feelings.

UP NEXT: ELF, THE MUSICAL (based on the movie) on the main stage November 13 — December 22, 2019.

*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)

ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.

TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.

THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.

FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.

FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For over 20 years, as a producer and program host on WNED Classical (94.5 FM), he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?" These days Peter can be heard regularly on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 5.

On “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?" As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take."

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he was an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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