Little Red Riding Through the Hood, Snow White and the Seven Train or The Owl and the Pink Pussycat all seem like titles that would be appropriate for the Urban Fairytale Festival taking place at Manhattan's Chelsea Playhouse and ending as scheduled April 29. Absolute Theatre's fifth annual celebration of a very different magical kingdom has 19 titles of its own, though.
All the plays in this year's festival use, as artistic director Charles E. Drew, Jr. puts it, "the gritty magic of the city... as a sort of fairy kingdom backdrop, complete with modern-day princes, witches, fairy godmothers and elves." The festival will feature two mainstage productions and six other evenings of short plays, grouped by theme. The shows will all play in rotating repertory for the duration of the run.
On the mainstage will be The Taming of Miss Shrew an adaptation of William Shakespeare's classic as set in the world of Motown and its volatile recording artists. Sharing the limelight will be Spades by Drew, Jr., which centers around a 1932 Negro League baseball team holed up in a haunted brothel while a hurricane passes through.
The remainder of the plays are assembled in six separate programs subtitled "Dungeons," "Fairydust," "Giants," "Munsters," "Sorceress" and "Storyville." A complete list of the short plays follows:
Soil by Drew, Jr. follows the mysterious disappearance of an inmate after a night in solitary. What We Leave by Rodney Stringfellow is about three movers who while cleaning out a dead man's apartment stumble upon a jar containing his soul.
The Emperor's New G-String by Les Simpson, a comedy based on "The Emperor's New Clothes" in which three male strippers try on the latest G-strings only visible to the intelligent.
The Revival by Lisa Jesse Peterson set in the mystical Church of the Living Womb, where you can feel the truth and testify. (On April 21, Juicy Sweetie Cocktail will run in lieu of The Revival)
Enlargement by Drew, Jr. centers on a gay couple who rob a bank so one can afford a penile implant.
Traders & Haters by Matthew B. Collins III in which giants still roam the earth and have plans for the rest of us.
The Prince's Baby's Mama's Club by Drew, Jr. finds Prince Charming perhaps too charming as he has fathered children to Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty.
Be Still by Stephen Winter, Musical Munsters by Charles & Co. and Zitoreez by Arda Koca will fill out the rest of the evening.
Mama Rose by Drew, Jr., a young girl creates an alter ego to deal with her stepfather's sexual abuse and the other personality comes with her when she escapes.
Me & Marie written and performed by Jo Lyn Sciarro who plays out a tragic love story between a trans-gendered woman and a girl through their eyes and their mothers'.
Ghost On Bychester Avenue by Deborah Gregory will also play.
Moonlake Casino by Drew, Jr. features the dead gay characters the Tennessee Williams never wrote into his early works as they wait to confront their creator.
Saydee & Deelores by Melanie Goodreaux sees the firecracker daughter confronting her sister who is moving to California to pass for White.
Sometimes It's All About Ownership also by Goodreaux is about four male muses who inspire a pair of cosmic female twins.
For tickets to the Urban Fairytale Festival, at the Chelsea Playhouse, 125 West 22nd Street (between 6th & 7th Ave.), call Smarttix at (212) 206-1515 or visit them online at www.smarttix.com. For more information on the event, call Absolute Theatre at (212) 561-1955.
— by Ernio Hernandez