The comic adaptation of the beloved tale features a special dance choreographed with dancers from Taos Youth Ballet.
"Sleeping Beauty or La Bella Durmiente or The Beauty of Sleeping" is a long name for a performance especially tailored for children. Performances are scheduled for Friday and Saturday (April 21-22), 7 p.m., at Enos Garcia Elementary School Auditorium, 440 Don Fernando St. A matinee is also planned for Saturday (April 22) at 1 p.m.
The cast has been rehearsing for nine weeks during the Taos Children's Theatre after-school program. Youth actors come from nine different Taos schools, including Enos Garcia Elementary, Taos Middle School and Taos High School. Some actors have participated in previous performances through the program.
Karen Thibodeau, director of Taos Children's Theatre, said the idea all began one night when she was in a deep sleep. She said she woke up with "Sleeping Beauty" on her mind and then realized what great theatrical potential there is in the fairy tale. Taking liberties with the original version of the tale, Thibodeau changed things around a little.
"Now, it is not a christening, but it's a quinceañera, the 15th birthday for not one, but three princesas. They're all dreaming about their prince to come, except Snapdragon, who is played by Isabela Rubin." Thibodeau explained how it varies from the original tale. "She says to her sisters, 'Why aren't we going backpacking? I mean, cake is full of sugar. We all could be going on a good hike and camp out. And boys … well, they're just people like everyone else.'"
Christopher Heron plays Jalapeña, who screams, "May you sleep in a river of salsa for a hundred years without chips!" Performing as the Wicked Roses, Taos Youth Ballet dancers weave branches of thorny roses across the stage while the entire cast falls into a deep sleep. Dancers Sasha Kushner and Adelaide Driver enrobe the castle in the enchantment of roses. Tuesday Faust has choreographed the dance.
"The set designing crew has come in with spectacular sets - the Palace Bakery of Monsieur Cupcake, the castle of the Kingdom of Quinceañera, the Enchanted Fairy Forest," Thibodeau said. She added, "The fairies of the Kingdom of Quinceañera are enchanted beings who like to cha-cha and salsa. They have unusual names, such as Tamale y Frijolita, played by Zahra Gottschau and Selene Duran; Tortilla con Queso, played by Wren Robinson and Cheylah Schochet; Choriza y Salsa, played by Aylin Cardenas and Kaylyn Staley; as well as Guacamole, who is played by Ashlee Martínez."
Everything really gets going when the dancing starts, she said. "Taos Youth Ballet choreographer Michelle Romero has them dancing a very creative fusion of cha-cha, salsa and guacamole called 'La Hip Salsa Dip n' Slide Cha Cha.'"
The intricacies of plot and setup in this adaptation are very important, as Thibodeau explains. It's hard not to feel, like a contagion, some of the theatrical excitement the young performers must be experiencing. "The princes of the kingdom are, of course, invited to the quinceañera. However, they decide to take on disguises to get jobs in the palace. This way, they can get a view of the princesas before the great event. So, Prince Reynaldo disguises himself as the great chef Jacque Custard, played by Josh Gonzales. Prince Leonardo becomes the great Spanish dancer Juanito Benito, played by J. Ryan Cox, a special talent coming from Taos High drama class. Prince Huberto, played by Bakhane Chandler, transforms into Rimsky Korsokoff, the great drama director from the Moscow Art Theatre," Thibodeau said.
All princes receive special instruction in different accents - Spanish, French, Russian.
Then, the great royal baking staff of Monsieur Cupcake is ordered by Queen Letricia to create a "simple, but wonderful; a basic, but fantastic; a little, but gigantic cake for 75 to 1,000 people." Cupcake, played by Richard Leirer, faints dead away when he hears this, but his staff rises to the occasion. The royal baking staff, headed by a character named Bubbles, played by Mara Campbell, concocts a basic recipe that creates a huge explosion.
Pat Morrison has created an enormous quadruple-layered birthday cake on wheels for the princesas' celebration. Randolph Grey Thorne III Esq designed the quinceañera costumes. A lovely little princess, played by Liana Nixon, emerges from the exploding cake. But just then, the fairy tale's bad guy, Jalapeña, arrives and casts the "Sleep for a Hundred Years" spell.
Thibodeau directs the play with a royal court of John Flaherty as King Stefano and Francisco Romero as "The Herald." Victoria Ortiz and Suzette Walker are assistant directors. Veteran Taos Children's Theatre actresses Isabela Rubin and Mikayla Martínez appear as Princesa Snapdragon and Princesa Wisteria.
Tickets are $10, while students and seniors pay only $8. Tickets for children 12 and younger are $5. Tickets are available at FX-18 on Bent Street or by calling (575) 758-0027.
Special in-school performances are planned for Enos Garcia classes as part of Taos Children's Theatre's educational mission.