“The Dancing Princesses,” showing now at the recently renovated Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, is not to be missed this holiday season. Based on the original German fairy tale preserved by the Brothers Grimm in 1812 (originally “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”), this version is brought to life by playwright Joseph McDonough, with music/lyrics by David Kisor, and a host of other fantastic collaborators, including the queen of dance herself, Victoria Morgan from Cincinnati Ballet. Nestled in the heart of Over-the-Rhine with delicious food and beautifully decorated shops just steps away, there could not be a more perfect location for an evening out to enjoy the arts and meet up with friends, both old and new.
In fact, my daughter and I had the privilege to meet Joe McDonough during our pre-theater dinner at Taste of Belgium right next door. He overheard her describing the story to me and leaned over to ask if we were going to the show while complimenting her on the recounting. To our utter delight, he then introduced himself and his lovely wife, further cementing our excellent evening. The show itself is an enchanting combination of magic, mystery and fabulous frivolity and shenanigans.
To keep it short on the shenanigans (which would greatly please Zilda!), I’ll reflect the five delightful princesses in the play with the five reasons you must see this show. Shall we begin?
- You will not stop smiling! The constant burst of color, music and movement will have you leaning forward to be part of a world that exudes energy and magic. But it is the beautifully crafted and brilliantly delivered non-stop dialogue that takes it to another level…one that fully embraces the groan-worthy and hilarious nature of puns. Michael G. Bath, as Joziam, makes us all want our very own wannabe jester.
- You will marvel at the ingenious simplicity and effectiveness of the set! The set-up of the theater ensures an intimate experience, but the clever design of one set serving each and every scene (in AND out of the castle, day AND night) is both amazing and highly effective. The beds in particular will have your little ones asking, “Can I have one?”
- You will fall a little in love with the princesses (and their dream princes)! From their bunny slippers to their delightful (and cacophonous) exchanges, the princesses keep you entertained and on their side from beginning to end. While all were played to perfection, my daughter and I delighted in the feisty Tiva, played with absolute conviction by Brooke Steele. And while Pharron, played by Michael Gerard Carr, was the perfect princely gentleman, it was Mack (Andrew Maloney) and Jack (Darnell Pierre Benjamin) who stole our hearts and made us laugh so hard it hurt with their endearing and ineffectual crushing on the princesses.
- You will find yourself fully immersed in the mystery! The story is intriguing and enchanting, offering small clues throughout, but allowing you to get there at your own speed. Even my daughter (who has read the original fairy tale) managed to get surprised and delighted by the ultimate “happily ever after.”
- You will have to restrain yourself from dancing in the aisles! As a big fan of Cincinnati Ballet and an avid DANCEFIX participant, I appreciate the amount of work it takes to not only perform a dance, but to do it well. This show manages to deliver a full cast that not only performs multiple dances, not only does them well, but seamlessly integrates every possible genre of dance you can imagine from Tango to Waltz to Bollywood and back. Cheers to a cast that is fantastic (and likely exhausted)!
With songs and one liners that will stay with you for some time to come, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati kicks of the holiday season in the best possible way with “The Dancing Princesses.” The show runs now through December 30, so add this to your holiday plans and bring your whole family. The five reasons above apply to all ages, from your little princes and princesses to anyone with love in their heart and a skip in their step. Be on the lookout for the rest of the 2017-2018 shows this season as well. This theater, amazing cast and crew, and the location are the perfect trifecta to enable a fabulous, frivolous time absolutely filled with shenanigans.
Christi Geary is the proud mom of two girls 10 and under, best friend and wife of her husband Brian, and an Associate Director at the Procter & Gamble Company focused on innovation insights and analytics. She enjoys and participates in art of all kinds, feeds an insatiable curiosity for learning, pursues different forms of exercise when she can find the time to balance out her foodie predilection, and delights in spending time with family and friends.