22nd July 2021
Disenchanted is a musical reimagining Disney princesses. In turn, they take to the stage to sing about why their ending may not have been quite so happily ever after. This is a fun musical, although slightly problematic at times, but it is definitely not one for the kids! The show contains adult themes and language throughout.
Disenchanted is written by Dennis T. Giacino. His music is fun and upbeat, although quite forgettable for the most part. His book is equally as unmemorable but there were definitely a few laugh out loud moments. Tom Jackson Greaves directs the production. He does a good job but the production is quite basic compared to other recent online productions. For the most part, the performers just stand or sit and sing their songs to the camera, with a plain coloured background. George Dyer’s musical direction is also good and the orchestrations sound suitable for the piece. In most online productions, I do miss being able to see the band though. It does seem slightly strange that this production has an all male writing and lead production team when the show is so much trying to be about female empowerment (even if these princesses are highly sexualised at times!).
Charlotte Wilkson is responsible for hair design and Abbi Rose did the make up. Both do a fantastic job for the most part. The wigs look excellent and all the cast look right for the parts they’re playing. Wilkson and Rose, alongside the other members of the production team, have come under criticism for cultural appropriation though, which is seen in the presentation of Pocahontas particularly.
An all star West End line up has been assembled for this production and the show is a great showcase for them all. Jodie Steele (Six, Heathers) leads the cast as Snow White. Her vocals are incredible from the word ‘go’ and she has great comic timing. Sophie Isaacs (Six, Heathers) demonstrates her sensational vocals as Cinderella. Allie Daniel (Rent, The Secret Society of Leading Ladies) completes the leading trio as Sleeping Beauty. She adds some great comedy to the piece and her song towards the end is heartfelt and beautifully performed.
Millie O’Connell (Six, Be More Chill) is entertaining as The Little Mermaid. Her characterisation is brilliant and her vocals are strong. Shanay Holmes (Rent, The Bodyguard) gives a very strong performance as The Princess Who Kissed The Frog. Her vocals are outstanding and her song is a highlight of the piece. Natalia Chua (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Bat Out of Hell) is a lovely Hua Mulan, with gorgeous vocals.
Aisha Jawando (Tina the Musical, Motown the Musical) is a highlight of the show as Belle and as the first princess to appear, she sets the tone very well. Jenny O’Leary (We Will Rock You, Heathers) gives a fun performance as Rapunzel, taking the princesses back to their German routes for a number. She shows her off sensational vocal ability.
The final two members of the cast are Courtney Bowman (Six, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie) as Princess Badroulbadour and Grace Mouat (Six, & Juliet) as Pocahontas. Both give brilliant performances and their vocals are a joy to listen to. However their casting has come under some criticism and understandably so. Badroulbadour (or as she’s more commonly known in the films, Jasmine) is supposed to be Arabian, whilst Pocahontas was a real life Native American. Neither Bowman or Mouat are from the same heritage of the characters they are playing, which doesn’t quite sit right. I’m not sure why Arabian or Native American actors weren’t cast or whether any were approached. This is by no means a criticism to Mouat and Bowman’s performances, as they did a brilliant job with the material they were given, but I do hope that producers Chris Steward and Shanay Holmes for West End Musical Productions have learnt from the criticism they’ve been given on this issue.
Disenchanted, although somewhat problematic in part, was enjoyable and I did finish the show with a smile on my face and feeling uplifted. All the cast do a terrific job, even if the production does a feel a little cheap and rushed at times. It is worth watching this production, in my opinion, to enjoy some great performances from an exceptionally talented cast.
Tickets can be purchased here. They cost £15, plus a £3 transaction fee. The show streams as live until 11th April. Please note: the show does contain adult language and content. It tackles difficult subject material including misogyny, race and sexuality, and it may not be suitable for people aged under 16.
Featured Image Credit: Disenchanted