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Sleeper hit

Review: A new version of the Sleeping Beauty fable combines deaf and hearing actors in a winning combination of catchy music, deft storytelling.

» Read an interview with the creative team behind ‘Sleeping Beauty Awakes’

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
By PAUL HODGINS
The Orange County Register

Sleep hit.jpgWhat should Sleeping Beauty do if Prince Charming is neither princely nor charming? Probably best to snooze right through the kiss, dontcha think?

That’s exactly what happens in “Sleeping Beauty Wakes,” an inventive and highly entertaining new take on the Sleeping Beauty fable that made its debut Saturday at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. Rachel Sheinkin (book) and Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda (music and lyrics) have borrowed from far and wide to recast the story as a pan-cultural, post-modern romance with plenty of twists and 21st-century sociocultural commentary stirred into the stew.

The result can seem a little too self-consciously cute and clever at times, but Sheinkin knows how to write a morality tale that charms as much as it edifies and plays just as well to adults as to kids. And the songs, performed by their creators along with percussionist Shannon Ford and some strong singers in the eight-member cast, are almost all hummable winners.

“Sleeping Beauty Wakes” is a co-production of Center Theatre Group and North Hollywood’s Deaf West Theatre. Like other Deaf West musicals (including its Tony-winning revival of “Big River”), this one combines deaf and hearing actors in a multilayered musical-theater landscape that includes performers who sing, speak and sign and others who only sign – their character’s voice is provided by either another performer or one of the onstage musicians. This approach sounds complicated, but thanks to some seamless craftsmanship you accept its brand of theatrical reality surprisingly quickly. Continue

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