NYSTI’s latest is a beguiling must-see for kids of any age

If you happen to number some favorite ten-year-olds among your friends, do not allow them to miss Ne

If you happen to number some favorite ten-year-olds among your friends, do not allow them to miss New York State Theatre Institute’s “Sleeping Beauty.” Come to think of it, that’s great advice for children of any age. The current production is so opulent, so beguiling no theater lover should miss it. Let us add to that, with its color and sense of magic and sparkling freshness, it is a perfect holiday show.

‘Sleeping Beauty’

WHERE: New York State Theatre Institute, Schacht Fine Arts Center, Troy

WHEN: Through Dec. 18

HOW MUCH: $20-$10

MORE INFO: 274-3256

This version of the beloved fairy tale is told in the style of Japanese Kabuki and Noh theatre and no element of those elegant traditions is missing from NYSTI’s production. From the set design by Marsha Louis Eck, which elicits the serenity of a Japanese garden, to the luscious costumes by Patrizia von Brandenstein, to the colorful screens, paintings and props expertly maneuvered by six “Prop men,” this is must-see theater.

Joel Aroeste plays The Storyteller. He explains to the audience it is “a story of love” or “how I met my wife.” John Romeo is The Musician, who enhances the music of 100% Sound Design with percussion instruments and autoharp and uses a slap-stick effectively when the storyteller goes off message. A slap-stick, you say? Well, that little addition, as well as a slightly addled storyteller just makes the show more accessible — and it is accessible.

Beauty, the princess (Rosie Spring), is born into the world one spring day in a land “where the sun is said to rise.” Her parents, The King (John McGuire, who also co-directed and originated the part of The Prince) and The Queen (Laura Flemming), are instantly transformed into happy people. The townspeople and members of the court are instantly transformed as well.

Ogress’ curse

The Spirits (Heather Bee Chestnut, Erika Hebert and Shannon Johnson) offer the newborn gifts of beauty, warmth and radiance and then the evil Ogress (Mary Jane Hansen) enters to take it all away. At sixteen, the Ogress proclaims, Beauty will die from the prick of a spindle.

One of the Spirits counters the curse by saying that beauty will only sleep till she receives a “true kiss” from an honest man. Naturally, The King will not accept that and, in an absolutely show-stopping scene, all the spindles in the kingdom are burned. In truth, many of the scenes are breathtaking for their creativity and color.

Though no mention is made in the program of a make-up designer or choreographer, the show must be complimented for those aspects as well. Toshiji Takeshima, as The Prince, has some spectacular moments as he fights The Sea Monster on his journey to find Beauty. And Spring is riveting in a beautiful dance as she blossoms into womanhood. The entire cast, including many NYSTI veterans, have outdone themselves in the areas of mime and movement. Anny DeGange and co-director McGuire must be commended for that.

The show has an interesting history and you can go online for that information, but, I must say, you won’t need to know its history for a thoroughly enjoyable holiday theater experience.

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

Leave a Reply