by Jody Tuso-Key — Managing Editor — Photo Credit Casey Gardner
There’s still time to head over to Synchronicity Theatre in Midtown Atlanta and catch ELLA ENCHANTED — it plays until January 5th and is a magical musical adaptation of the book by Gail Carson Levine. Those who have read the book and then seen the movie can attest to the fact that the movie, starring Anne Hathaway, was loosely based on the book, whereas this adaptation by acclaimed playwright Karan Zacarias with music by Deborah Wicks La Puma follows the story line as written by Levine.
“Ella of Frell is given the ‘”gift” of obedience by Lucinda, her misguided Fairy Godmother, and is forced to do anything people command her. On her adventure to rid herself of the curse, she must outwit ogres, sidestep giants, befriend a prince, survive her step-family, and ultimately find the power to be her true self.” (source:vhttps://crunchynotes.com/show/ella-enchanted/)
I need to start this review with a disclaimer. I unfortunately didn’t see the first 45 minutes of the show as my car was rear ended on I-85 on the way to the theater. As this was the only night I could attend, I didn’t let that stop me, and the friendly folks at Synchronicity were gracious enough to allow me to enter during Act I when my friend and I arrived. What I walked into was an intimate setting of pint-sized audience patrons dressed in pajamas. The kids outnumbered the adults by about 5 to 1 as there was a girl scout troop attending and most adults were accompanied by children. Friday nights for this showing are “PJs and Play”, which I had forgotten about (being a middle school teacher on the last day before winter break, things kinda slip your mind). Even though I arrived late, I can assure you that this show is a Speakeysie MUST SEE! Anyone who loves the story of Cinderella will enjoy this modern take which empowers the heroine to break her own curse.
The music in this production is catchy–I’d like to have a soundtrack if one existed. The show consists of only 7 performers, 6 of whom play multiple roles. Of course, L’Oréal Roaché is Ella throughout the entire production. L’Oréal is a senior at Kennesaw State, and hopefully she’ll stay in the ATL for a while as I’d like to see her on stage again. She has a dynamic stage presence and a powerful singing voice. Her portrayal of Ella was heartfelt and genuine.
Marcie Millard is one of my favorite ATL actresses and plays both protagonist Ella’s mother and antagonist Dame Olga as well as Ogre #4. I loved her in MAMMA MIA! at the Aurora, and was delighted to see her once again. Marcie brought the same energy to this show as she does to every production that has the honor of casting her. She is the quintessential character actress.
Alex Harding as Prince char (and also servant #2) is also a Kennesaw state student in his junior year. What impressed me most about him was his smooth vocals. He already has several professional credits under his belt and was most recently seen in Aurora’s CHILDREN OF EDEN and Atlanta Lyric Theatre’s OLIVER.
Robert Hindsman (Sir Peter/Menagerie Creature.Ogre 1/Squire) provides the funniest moments in the show. His cartoon-ish comedic timing is perfect for young audiences and had me in stitches several times.
Amy Reynolds (Lucinda/Bird/Mistress Manners) is breaking into the ATL theater scene, and has understudied several productions. It’s finally her time to shine, and shine, she did as Lucinda in a beautiful gold sparkly dress created by costume designer April Andrew. I’m a big fan of bling, and this dress has it going on!!
Meg Harkins (Hattie/Servant 1/Menagerie Creature/Ogre 2) wowed me in her Synchronicity debut. She has stellar vocals and amazing acing abilities. She’s another one I hope to see more of in the future.
Alexandria Joy (Olive/Servant 3/Menagarie Creature/Ogre 3) Also made me laugh out loud. While Olive was given very cleverly written lines, it was her execution that brought them to life and laughter.
Director Jenna Tamisiea and her team along with technical director Elisabeth Cooper put together technical elements of fairy tale proportions. As my good friend, Neva Garrett, who attended the play with me said, “They sure to pack a lot of entertainment in to a small space”. Synchronicity is an intimate 150 seat theater, and there’s not a bad seat in the house. The set designed by Derrick Vanmeter was highly imaginative consisting of an open book on stage right which provided for indoor scenes, and a forest on stage right providing for outdoor scenes. Music Director/Sound designer Amanda Wansa Morgan worked with these talented voices to produce some beautiful harmonies, and my dear friend, Kari Twyman’s choreography had all the cast members dancing with her signature style. I especially loved Olive and Hattie dancing badly, which was a hoot!
My assessment of this show is that it is a Speakeysie MUST SEE!! Get your tickets ASAP at https://www.synchrotheatre.com/.