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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Sleeping Beauty Wakes

Where are the old people? — Sleeping Beauty when looking at a magazine after sleeping for 1000 years.
They're just not in magazines— Randy.

Alexandria Wailes
Alexandria Wailes as Sleeping Beauty
(Photo: Craig Schwartz)
Scintillatingly directed and choreographed by Jeff Calhoun, who also did the Deaf West award-winning production of Big River, this co-production of The Center Theatre Group and Deaf West Theatre is everything a dream ought to be. Rachel Sheinkin's book begins with the classical fairy tale in which an over-protected Princess, Beauty (Alexandria Wailes) rebels against her parents and encounters the very person they're trying to save her from. This Bad Fairy, naturally upset at being excluded from the christening festivities, has cast a spell on the baby. She is to prick her finger on a spindle and fall down dead, a spell ameliorated by the last fairy to sleeping for 100 years.

So much for classics. Beauty awakes in a sleep clinic, surrounded by other sleep-tormented patients: an insomniac (Kevin Early), a sonambulist (Troy Kotsur), a restless leg syndrome sufferer (Christia Mantzke) and a night terror patient (Erica Amato). Also present are Russell Harvard, now an orderly, once the Groundkeeper's Son who is Beauty's first love, the Clinic Director (Deanne Bray) who doubles as the Bad Fairy and Beauty's father, the King (Clinton Derricks-Carroll) who has managed to wheel and deal enough magic to survive until his daughter wakes up. Tobin Ost's set design begins with stained glass windows which create a magical ambiance and morphs into the stainless steel of the sleep clinic.

Though a little long, the inventiveness and charm make the production a winner. Deaf actors mime or dance roles voiced by singing actors. All play multiple parts but the fairy-tale characters don't change much over the centuries.

Troy Kotsur, memorable as Huck's smarmy Dad in Big River, is an excellent smarmy Prince whose kiss doesn't do a thing for Beauty. She sleeps on for another thousand years. In the sleep clinic, Kotsur's sleepwalker is equally sleezy, though he does seem to interest the Clinic Director at the end, maybe because she's the reincarnated Bad Fairy (sung by Erica Amato, danced with mesmerizing menace by Deanne Bray, particularly in the hypnotic "Wheel Goes Round").

Clinton Derricks-Carroll's big voice and charismatic personality flesh out the thinly drawn King. Christia Mantzke sings magnificently as the Queen and shows comic flair as the Restless Leg Patient. Russell Harvard is a James Stewart-esque Groundkeeper's Son/Orderly, who wins Beauty's heart even though, as Clinic Director says to Father, "he may not have the potential you want." Kevin Early's fine tenor is, as always a delight, and he makes a sly baby-faced character out of Randy. Alexandria Wailes is a perky enchanting Beauty.Alexandria Wailes is a perky enchanting beauty. The musical takes the fairy tale one step beyond Beauty's awakening by a kiss. As the King mourns her delight in the Orderly and the working life, we're reminded by Bad Fairy as Clinic Director, whose charm turns out to be a creative one, that even if the older generation shrinks from the wicked world, to the young it's joy and discovery and their choices, if not good, are personal. The score by husband-and-wife team Brendan Milburn (keyboardist) and Valerie Vigoda (violinist and Voice of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White) is charming, eerie in the Bad Fairy's "Uninvited", enchanting in "Dream With Me. " Vigoda, who sings and plays the violin simultaneously and co-composed the score, comes across as a real star of this production. Milburn also plays multiple roles and drummer Shannon Ford is a hunky Sumo wrestler presence as Urashima Taro.

This is an expensive to mount show. But the music and inventive casting should insure perennial audience appeal.

Book: Rachel Sheinkin. Music & Lyrics: Brendan Milburn & Valerie Vigoda
Director/Choreographer: Jeff Calhoun
Produced by Deaf West Theatre and Center Theatre Group
Cast: Erica Amat0 (Night Terror Patient, Royal Servant, Voice of Clinic Director & Bad Fairy), Deanne Bray (Clinic Director, Bad Fairy), Clinton Derricks-Carroll (King), Kevin Early (Insomniac, Voice of Prince Charming), Shannon Ford (Drummer, Urashima Taro, Voice of Sleepwalker), Russell Harvard (Orderly, Groundkeeper's Son), Troy Kotsur (Sleepwalker, Prince Charming), Christia Mantzke (Restless Leg Syndrome Sufferer, Queen, Voice of Snow White), Alexandria Wailes (Beauty), Brendan Milburn (Rip Van Winkle, Voice of Orderly and Groundskeeper's Son), Valerie Vigoda (Voice of Beauty, Snow White)
Set Design: Tobin Ost
Costume Design: Maggie Morgan
Lighting Design: Michael Gilliam
Sound Design: Eric Snodgrass
Running Time: Two and a half hours, one intermission
Running Dates: March 31-May 13, 2007
Where: Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd, Culver City. Reservations: (213) 628-2772.
Reviewed by Laura Hitchcock on April 14, 2007
Musical Numbers
Prologue &Act One
  • Everything Changes But You (Groundskeeper's Son)
  • Wake Up Call For Love (Prince Charming and the World's Great Sleeper)
  • Can You Cure Me? (Sleep Patients)
  • Only a King (King)
  • Dream With Me (Beauty & The World's Great Sleepers)
  • It's A Girl (King, Queen & Townspeople)
  • Uninvited (Bad Fairy)
  • Gift Giving sequence (Sleep Patients)
  • Lullaby/Dream With Me Reprise (Orderly, Beauty & World's Great Sleepers)
  • Out of Harm's Way (King, Queen, Servants & Beauty)
  • Trouble (Beauty & Groundskeeper's Son)
  • Drifting (Beauty & Groundskeeper's Son)
  • Out of Harm's Way Reprise (King & Queen)
  • Bring It On (Beauty)
  • Wheel Goes Round (Bad Fairy & Beauty)
Act Two
  • She's Awake (Sleep Patients)
  • Eyes Wide Open (King)
  • Can You Cure Me? Reprise (Sleep Patients)
  • You Make Me Feel Awake (Beauty & Orderly)
  • Still Small Hours (Sleep Patients)
  • Only A King Reprise (King)
  • Ordinary Magic (Orderly & Beauty)
  • Quintet (Beauty, King, Orderly, Sleep Patients, Clinic Director)
  • Lullaby Reprise (Sleep Patients, Beauty)
  • Take It Back (Bring It On Reprise)
  • Beauty's Dream (Queen, Bad Fairy)
  • Everything Changes But You Reprise (Beauty
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