Ghent Playhouse, Ghent, NY
Rapunzel, The Tale of a Quaran-Teen by Cathy Lee-Visscher.
Song Lyrics by Cathy Lee-Visscher, Mark Wilson and Cathy Schane-Lydon.
Directed by Cathy Lee-Visscher. Reviewed by J. Peter Bergman.
"Kids! You can live with them, but you can't burn them."
This is a story of two mothers in a battle over radish greens. When the basically barren Baker's Wife becomes pregnant her food cravings get out of hand forcing her husband to thievery from a neighbor's garden. When she catches him, she is revealed as a witch who threatens them with a heavy curse as punishment for his theft. They reluctantly arrive at a deal. She will spare the Baker's wife, but claim her first-born as her own. This turns out to be their daughter Rapunzel. But the Baker's Wife has given birth to twins which ultimately alters the familiar story as The Pantoloons tell it at The Ghent Playhouse in Ghent, New York for their 21st season.
In Joanne Maurer's funniest costumes ever, the issues of babydom, childhood, and the teen years dominate this show with just enough politics thrown in to keep it on the traditional holiday Panto track. Maurer herself appears as the Court Physician Dr. Bony Ouchy who interrupts the show with frequent announcements about the plague ravaging their town. She is almost as amusing as her costumes. Mark Wilson is fun as the Baker, bemused, in love and in need of some rest from the hard-hearted wife who tortures him with her very vegetarian desires.
Monk Schane-Lydon is hilarious as the Baker's Wife. From his movements in his drag costume to his verbal attacks on her husband there is something delicious in his work. He's been very good in earlier pantos he is truly in his stride here. His actual wife, Catherine Schane-Lydon plays the narrator/bartender behind a cleverly designed piano-shield - one section of Sam Reilly's wonderful stage set. There are five playing areas that Reilly manipulates for this show: the Baker's kitchen, Rapunzel's tower, the "bar," the woods and Dr. Ouchy's podium (a joke itself), all of this on the playhouse's small stage. It is a comedic miracle.
Mark Wilson as the Baker and Monk Schane-Lydon as his wife; Photo: Sam Reilly (rehearsal shot)
Cathy Lee-Visscher as the Witch; Photo: Sam Reilly