Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea
MAGICIANS Nicole Scribner, left, and Zora Richardson, at top, visit the Princess (Savannah Ezelle, in back) and her trusty Rounder (Lara Clute, kneeling).
As of Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Puppetry, shadow play, a bit of thievery, and songs of love, hope and villainy combine with dance, a fight scene or two, and some whimsical surprises as Bill Weiler’s original musical “The Blind Princess” returns to the Hood River stage.
Plays for Non-Profits and Columbia Center for the Arts Children’s theater present the children’s play, originally performed in February 2008 and back by popular demand. The musical was written by Weiler and is directed by Sullivan Mackintosh, CCA’s children’s theater director.
Shows are May 24-25 at 7 p.m. and May 26 and at 2 p.m. (see Tickets and Times).
“The Blind Princess” is a fairytale of enchantment and music, said a press release. Blinded in a horseback riding accident during a battle that killed her brother, the young princess despairs as a string of magicians and doctors try to cure her of her blindness. Her mother, the Empress, has offered riches to anyone who succeeds, but the Scorpion, the emperor of a rival neighboring kingdom, offers what appears to be unity by way of marriage to his son Prince Vulture. However, the Empress’ devoted young chamberlain is also in love with the princess, who wonders if she is destined for love, but her seeing-eye, pot-bellied pig keeps reality in check, adding humor to the tale.
“While the play is very funny, it has at its heart a complex protagonist: a young woman who is struggling to figure out who she is,” said Mackintosh, who helped out backstage in 2008 while her mother, Desiree Amyx Mackintosh, had her role in the production.
Mackintosh said the princess “wrestles with grief over the double loss of her brother and her sense of sight, the social expectations set for royalty, the concept of love, and a lot of the same insecurities and frustrations that teenagers deal with today. Many other characters in the story are also challenged to consider that things may be different than what they’ve been told to expect, and these surprises make them stronger.
“This is the second time this play has been produced in Hood River, and I felt that it was important to tell this story in a new way,” Mackintosh said. “Seeing the creativity of performers at auditions gave me a great jumping-off place for my concept: This fairytale is invented by three sisters who create a bedtime story from the depths of their imaginations. The technical elements — sets, costumes, props — are inspired by the children’s bedroom, so you’ll see a mish-mash of objects that could come from a toy chest or dress-up closet. This production is set in no particular time or place … or maybe many times and places!
“I was fortunate to be able to collaborate closely with Bill Weiler for the production, who was willing to work through new drafts of the script as we made discoveries in casting and rehearsals.”
Changes include casting women in roles originally written for men, doubling the number of Magicians, turning one adult narrator into three child narrators, and giving Rounder, the “seeing-eye pig,” a troupe of backup dancers.
“Another exciting new element is the role of the ensemble,” Mackintosh said. “Our performers are true storytellers and scene makers, taking on a variety of roles: actors, stage hands, puppeteers, musicians. Many actors learned to play new instruments so that they could jump in to the band for the show’s many songs, led by our main musicians Connor Muhl and playwright/composer Bill Weiler.
“We also brought in even more audience participation — already a highlight of the original production,” Mackintosh said.