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Review: Once Upon a Dream at OnyxFest

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Being a telling of the Cinderella story, this show seems crafted for young audiences. For the adults, it can become tooth-achingly cloying with the majority of events taking place out of sheer force of dreaming. There is no fairy godmother, no magical tree, just “I really want some new shoes…oh, look, new shoes!” (In this case, perhaps the prince should dream of a dance belt.)

The plot delivers pretty simple fare without any surprises and the finale erupts in a shouting match when Cinderella takes a moment to redress her stepmother. This feels awfully hollow, but it does finish with Cinderella stating her forgiveness of her abusive guardian. It would have been interesting if this were developed a bit more, allowing the character and the relationship some more complexity. There was also a brief, shining moment of potential when it is revealed that Cinderella’s father is essentially a deadbeat. I would have loved to have seen this fresh notion plumbed — is the loss of her husband what drives the stepmother to be wicked?

A lack of a father figure could also be a very interesting counterpoint to Cinderella’s loneliness. This musical is still being developed, so there is the possibility that as time goes by, the plot will pick up a bit more nuance and maturity.

PLAYWRIGHT ARTTACGO LUCKETT
  • Playwright Arttacgo Luckett

The music itself is also currently being rearranged to have a fuller sound, so unfortunately, right now the best moments of the score are just stock. Nonetheless, there were some truly clever bits of word play in the songs, such as the prince — played by composer, lyricist, author, director, costumer, and wicked stepmother, Arttacgo Luckett — fretting over his skittish lover’s remaining slipper (“Is this a token of affection/Or a game of misdirection?”)

The real highlight of the performance actually comes from two side characters played by Katie Chase. Chase seems to be the most seasoned performer of the small cast, and what’s more, her voice is golden. I hope she can make the trek down from her native land of Muncie again so we here in Indy can see more from her.

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