Sleeping Beauty takes a nap, but it’s keeping things at SSC wide awake
Acting in a Shakespeare Santa Cruz production is a hard gig. In order to score a beloved spot in any of the revered company’s summer shows, your resume will probably need to be lengthy and impressive. So for the neophytes who are trying to break in, SSC is accommodating: The company offers “interns” choice spots (usually in the ensemble) in the summer repertory plays. During the winter season, SSC gives students even more stage time. In late November through December, in recent years, the company has offered an annual pantomime (a style of theater originating in England, which requires that male roles be played by females and vice versa, among other surprises). These pantomimes feature a cast that is heavily made up of UC Santa Cruz students.
This is, in essence, their way “in.” This year, SSC has compiled a strong cadre of students who deserve every minute that they’ve earned on the stage in this year’s panto, “Sleeping Beauty.” The actors fit together like a tight family, sharing the stage with one another and their bigger theatrical brothers and sisters like Mike Ryan (Jeepers), Michelle Farr (Queen) and the audience’s constant favorite, Joseph Ribeiro.
In “Sleeping Beauty,” the three aforementioned actors sparkle on stage, like they always do, with, of course, Ribeiro being the notable star. He plays the part of Belladonna (who’s not particularly the belle of the ball here). Belladonna is a wicked, grumpy fairy godmother that spoils the christening of baby Princess Sleeping Beauty.
When the fairies are summoned to bless the wee Beauty, they each attempt to give her something beneficial in life: brains, beauty and … but then Belladonna shows up. Upset that she wasn’t invited to the party, she throws a fit and curses the young Beauty. We all know how the story goes from there. Or do we?
Playwright Kate Hawley dazzles once again with a script that is full of whimsical surprises. She takes the classic “Sleeping Beauty” story and shakes it up, infusing smart, adult humor, loads of comedy and a classic fairy tale with a twist. Hawley’s trademark wit is sprinkled throughout the dialogue and lyrics, and director Paul Whitworth delivers a play that audiences of all ages will surely enjoy, especially children.
Keeping in stride with her ongoing reputation as a brilliant costume designer, B Modern brings a palette of colors and costumes to the stage. Frankly, her designs are often breathtaking for any fashion aficionado. Likewise, the fanciful interior of a “castle,” designed by Jedediah Ike, provides the perfect architectural backdrop for this story.
As the fairytale progresses, we find that our Sleeping Beauty, played by Jasmine Tommaso, a theater arts student, dozes off for 100 years. While she’s catching a few Z’s, she has some wild and colorful dreams. And the only way for her to arise from her deep slumber? Well, of course, a prince must kiss the fair maiden. But that, in itself, is quite an adventure. We’ll leave a few things as a mystery, so as to not spoil the ending. But do know this: Unlike our princess, you won’t fall asleep.
Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s winter pantomime, “Sleeping Beauty,” plays through Dec. 17 on the Mainstage at UC Santa Cruz. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 459-2159, visit shakespearesantacruz.com or e-mail [email protected] Tickets are $18-$32.