Who doesn't love a Disney Princess? Well, Disney villains I guess. But apart from them, these characters have been a staple in society for generations with most of us growing up with their classic stories. Twists on the happily ever after stories are by no means a new take on the fairytale and Disenchanted is here to provide us with a deeper look at the lives of some of our favourite fictional (for the most part) women and the intricacies of "The Princess Complex".
Our heroines are played by a cast of West End superstars including a few who are used to playing Queens in Six but have not yet played a Princess. Jodie Steele hosts the ceremony as Snow White, displaying an incredible range and versatility we have gotten used to from her as well as a whole lot of humerous characterisation. She is reunited with her Heathers co-star Sophie Isaacs who plays a more complicated version of Cinderella than we are used to. Their chemistry is as clear to see here as it was when they performed on a West End stage together. The pair are joined by Allie Daniel, who was recently seen in RENT, who gives a hilarious and narcoleptic turn as Sleeping Beauty.
Our three main stars introduce a revolving door of fellow Princesses, each of whom talk about their own story and the problems they face with it. Aisha Jawando gives a standout turn as Belle from Beauty and the Beast who emulates 'I'm Breaking Down' from Falsettos as she goes insane from all her talking furniture. Ending with her whistle register that made all of our jaws drop at the Musicals: The Greatest Show concert, Aisha again proves why she is a force to be reckoned with.
Millie O'Connell sings about her regrets while swigging from a bottle of beer as she plays The Little Mermaid, struggling to get used to having two legs, Jenny O'Leary talks about keeping her German heritage as Rapunzel while Shanay Holmes is simply stunning as "The Princess who kissed the Frog". One of the shows highlight is the group number where the Princesses sing about why they are always portrayed as having big tits... featuring some brilliant prop action with balloons.
While Disenchanted is undoubtedly a feel good show full of laugh out loud moments, it surprisingly carries far more depth than just a harmless bit of fluff. Serious issues about identity and the damage idolisation can cause in society are prominent throughout the show - sometimes dressed up with humour and sometimes played out to really highlight how problematic they are. From Allie Daniel singing about the need to be perfect, Cinderella talking about not being able to eat, Courtney Bowman sounding off about being a secondary character in her story and general themes of body confidence, these numbers provide a more serious tone than one might have expected.
Themes of race are clear in Disenchanted - from The Princess who kissed the frog celebrating the fact there is finally a Black Princess to Natalie Chua criticising the inaccuracies with her character Mulan. The most emotional moment is Grace Mouat as Pocahontas who longs to tell her true story. As her true story flashes up on the screen, it carries a huge amount of emotional significance in a show that you may have assumed was not going to require much thought.
Full of clever takes on some iconic characters, brilliant songs and witty dialogue ("You won't see THAT on Disney+" being my favourite), Disenchanted lures you in with the promise of being a fun take on some well loved stories. What in then does is far deeper, talking about serious issues while still allowing you to have fun. Fun is the key word here as from start to finish, that is exactly what this show is. Filmed simply, the cast are what carries this show through and proves that you don't need special effects to remain utterly captivating.
Absolutely hilarious at times and full of incredible performances from some of the West Ends finest, Disenchanted is an all empowering celebration of ALL women, not just Princesses - but real women as well. If you're a fan of Disney or just want to see some Princesses say some four letter words, this is the show for you.
Disenchanted is streaming on https://www.stream.theatre/season/96 on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th April at 7.30pm each evening.