Jen Julia, director of Telluride's Sheridan Arts Foundation's Young People's Theatre is one twisted sister– and that's a good thing. Generally speaking, when it comes to adapting chestnuts for her actors, Jen goes her own way. This time, she is following the crowd. Sort of…
Take Disney's latest (the 50th) animation,"Tangled," the story of Rapunzel, about an exiled princess who has never been to a hairdresser. In this version, the girl has been shut up in a castle by the evilest of evil stepmoms in the Disney pantheon, Mother Gothel, because her golden hair has the power to heal wounds, cure disease and reverse the aging process. (Hmm, hair as Botox.) Throw Pixar's bravura effects into the mix and voila, everything old is brand spanking new.
For the record, the classic version of "Sleeping Beauty" was written by Charles Perrault and published in 1697. It begins at the christening of a princess at which fairy godmothers offered gifts, the basics, beauty, wit and musical talent, all a girl needed to succeed back in the good old days. But a wicked fairy, who was not invited to the party, retaliates by placing the princess under an enchantment, saying that upon reaching adulthood, she would prick her finger on a spindle and die. A good fairy, who can't quite reverse the spell, puts the princess and her entourage to sleep for 100 years.
Jen doesn't mince words. She shows her hand in the title of her Young People's Theatre production: "Sleeping Beauty (Sort Of)".
" 'Sleeping Beauty, (Sort Of)' runs on the 'play within a play' concept, and follows the 'Wiggly Knots Semi-Professional Theatrical Troupe' through their dramatic misadventures," she explains. "There's a headstrong director, a perpetually confused stage manager, and lots of zany actors with varying levels of talent. I wrote this script especially for my middle school students who love a wacky story and lots of physical comedy. Telling a traditional story with a twist is a Young People’s Theater tradition."
"Sleep Beauty, (Sort Of)" is performed by grades 6 – 8. Shows are December 3 – 5, 6 p.m. at Telluride's historic Sheridan Opera House. Tickets $11 for kids; $13 for adults.
Check out the cast in action in Clint Viebrock's video.