SOTA offers fairy tales for all with new show “The Princess Plays”
Who says princess plays are for kids? This princess-packed production is said to be for people ages zero to 114.
March 24, 2023
SOTA’s theatre program is back in action Friday with the opening of “The Princess Plays,” a musical spin on classic princess stories “Snow White and the Dancing Dwarves” and “Sleeping Beauty: Rise and Shine.” The show runs March 24 to April 2 at the Corbett Theatre.
The show is written and directed by Ken Jones, who was commissioned by the Cincinnati Children’s Theatre to write the segments separately. With similar princess themes having in common musically-driven experiences that bring cultural and stylistic twists, Jones said it made sense to package the shows into one production.
The first leg of the show, “Snow White and the Dancing Dwarves,” brings eclectic and breezy motion into the story through dwarves representing an array of cultures and dance styles, like Latin tango, Irish jig, ballet, waltz and more. A kind-hearted Snow White finds herself afflicted by the piercing vanity of her stepmother whose superficial ideals stop at no end, sparking a rocky journey on which she makes some friends.
“Sleeping Beauty: Rise and Shine” juxtaposes the gleeful, sparkling sounds and movements of the first leg with a steampunk spin outfitted with groove that lifts the ambiance out of the traditional princess realm. The main character, Aurora, is born among princesses who effortlessly fit the bill, but she’s not so fond of ordinary princess life. So, she chooses to do things her way in an ode to individualism.
Tyler Gabbard, scenic designer of the show, described the set design as minimal and actor-centric. The surroundings accentuate the acting, writing and music to push the storyline, placed like pictures that hover on the pages of a storybook and let the audience’s imagination breathe the space into an enchanted land.
The casts of both productions comprise the same 23 actors and actresses, weaving the separate stories with a common thread of personnel.
Jones said this is one of the first children-targeted productions to come to NKU for years. The experience for aspiring performing artists is invaluable, he said. A strong nation-wide appetite for children’s theatre makes the sector a potential source of employment for students.
“Every major city has a children’s theatre, and that’s a great way to employ our students. So it’s something for them to learn because the acting styles are a little bit broader, the storylines are a little bit faster,” Jones said.
Lighting Designer Jo Sanburg suggested the program dabble in children’s theatre. Sandburg’s rich background in children’s theatre and Jones’ recent work with the Cincinnati Children’s Theatre made for the perfect opportunity to bring this show to NKU.
“The Princess Plays” is stirring excitement in the community as well—the opening weekend is nearly sold, according to Jones. Rounds of calls from schools, families and youth groups bombarding the theatre have voiced excitement for the chance to bring their kids, Jones said.
Jones hopes the show not only entertains but sparks a passion for the art form in the young audience.
“Try to inspire not only future actors, but future dancers, future musicians, future singers who come and see this when they’re kids and want to grow up and come back here,” Jones said.