Orthros Theatre Company has admirable aims with their original parody musical, A Modern Fairytale, but they are let down by a script that values politics over plot.
A Modern Fairytale follows the budding romance of the Big Bad Wolf and Red Riding Hood as they navigate the barriers of Red’s posessive ex-boyfriend Hunter, Red’s potion-brewing Granny, and the general displeasure of the townsfolk at seeing a human-human getting together with an animal-human. Against this backdrop, a variety of subplots emerge including a romance between Alice and the Mad Hatter, the mystery of why Snow White is mute, the sneaky thievery of Puss in Boots, and more.
The diverse subplots allow for some interesting issues and relationship types to be explored, but with so many ideas at play there is little time to truly develop the main storyline. The main pairing of Wolf and Red fall in love from the first song, resulting in a complete lack of development in their relationship. They don’t learn anything, and thus we remain unengaged with their story. The bad guys remain bad, the good guys remain good, suggesting a pantomime. But the jokes fall flat more often than not and are, at least in one instance, cast aside altogether in favour of an eerily beautiful dance number that implies sexual assault.
Individual performances are strong including the endearingly cheeky Puss in Boots played by Bev Rapley, whose beatboxing “Boots ‘n Cats” and her loot bag reveal were comedic highlights of the show. The tap dance-off between Damon Jang as the Hatter and Amanda Krystal as Alice is guaranteed to be the most entertainingly angry tap battle you will see this year, while Natalie Schreiber’s potion-brewing anthem of “Before Red Moves Out” nails the high notes of Adele’s hits while Bradford Pellerin’s Hunter gyrates blissfully in the corner.
A Modern Fairytale is a strong effort by a largely amateur cast that tackles a large array of diverse issues, all while singing creative parody versions of some of today’s most popular hits. It is a difficult task and they should be commended for aiming so high.
A Modern Fairytale. Written and directed by Lisa Simon and musical direction by Corrigan Cassidy. An Orthros Theatre Company production. On stage at Metro Theatre (1370 Marine Dr SW, Vancouver) until August 30. Visit http://metrotheatre.com for tickets and information.