Enchantment for All
Reviewed by Robin Munson
The musical, "Atalanta" (book and lyrics by Karen Hardcastle, music by David O, directed by Dave Mowers), is based on the popular book by Marlo Thomas, "Free to Be You and Me." This sweet-but-never-sacchariny story takes the princess/handsome prince premise and turns it on its head.
The princess, Atalanta (a plucky Elizabeth Tobias) has a dilemma. At 18 she is expected to marry. Royal marriage proposals are pouring in, but Atalanta longs to visit cities she has only read about. She wants to determine whom, when, and even whether she will marry. This is unheard of! Her best friend Diana, minstrel-in-training - who sings just off-key enough to be funny in strategic places (Lori Scarlett), argues that marriage is a "sensible dream," but Atalanta insists, "Girls can do anything."
In the end, the headstrong princess wins over even her father, the king (a very regal Guerin Barry), fending off a hilarious assortment of suitors (all played by Tom Beyer). Imogene, Atalanta's confidante and caregiver (Deb Snyder) provides a wry but nurturing mother figure. John (Peter Musante), stalwart and sensible, is the only one who seems to "get" the princess. I won't give away the ending, but I will say it is happy.
There is much here to admire. The set is colorful and playful. The singing is superb. The music by David O. is sophisticated and very enjoyable. The book, while primarily a children's piece, never talks down to the audience. Everyone in the cast is energetic and imaginative.
I forgot there were small children at the performance for the entire hour and five minutes. That let me know I wasn't the only one who was thoroughly enchanted.
"Atalanta" runs Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. through July 17 at the Powerhouse Theatre, 3116 2nd St. in Santa Monica. General admission $20, students/seniors $15, kids under 12 $10. For tickets call (310) 396-3680, ext. 0, or visit www.powerhousetheatre.com.