You may think that you've seen Sleeping Beauty. And you may think that you've seen marionettes. But, you haven't really seen Sleeping Beauty as performed by marionettes until you've seen the Carlo Colla company's version currently playing at The New Victory Theater in Manhattan through Sunday, November 10, 2013, after opening this weekend.
This ninety minute long production (with one intermission) is perfect for children who find the Disney movie too simplistic, and the production values of the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre in Central Park too bare-bones (the latter is, nevertheless, worthwhile as one of the city's best family bargains).
The Sleeping Beauty offered by New Vic boasts a script translated from Italian and, as a result, is filled with rich, evocative, majestic language not usually found in your typical kiddie show. Words like "venerable," "sovereign," and "chamberlain" and phrases like "delight the palate" and "eminent cortege" are used in context, so that children unfamiliar with them can still follow the story, while others can avoid feeling talked down to (for some kids, nothing turns them off faster than feeling patronized).
The show also employs excerpts from Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66 (Ballet) to underscore the dialogue.
But, the true unique selling proposition of this particular Sleeping Beauty are the opulent costumes and sets on display, from golden ballrooms to bramble covered castes, from smoke-breathing dragons to a princesses and fairies who change their delicately beaded gowns more frequently than a hostess at the Academy Awards. The stagecraft is top-notch, prompting cries of "how did they do that?" from the pint-sized audience.
Luckily, when your children have questions (and when do your children ever not have questions?), the puppeteers have answers!
After the show, the curtain is raised and the audience not only sees how the panels slid together to create the eye-popping effects, but also meets the hard-working puppeteers on a platform above the stage, and is invited to probe the mysteries of how such an intricate marionette production comes together. No question is off-limits, including trade secrets!
Seats in the balcony start at $14 and go up to $48 for orchestra seating. Hurry, many shows are already sold out!