Aug. 13 2010 12:00 AM

Riverwalk freshens up a 300-year-old fantasy


It isn’t often that a 300-year-old story is ripe with innovation, but such is the case with Riverwalk Theatre’s production of “Sleeping Beauty.”

The play, which continues through Sunday, Aug. 15, offers an array of new features, from the cast to the script.

“I really enjoy the writer Stan Gill’s script,” director Mycah Artis said. “He takes these traditional stories and somehow makes them new and exciting again.

It’s a classic but it’s reinvented, and then I also have the opportunity to put my own spin on it.

“Obviously, the outcome of the story is pretty similar to the well-known version, but the script caters to a wider audience. It would appeal to adults as well as children. It’s humorous and is fun for anyone of any age to see.”

The familiar story follows the quest of Prince Lionel to awaken a slumbering princess, who fell under the spell of the Midnight Faerie after pricking her finger on a spindle of an enchanted spinning wheel.

The Riverwalk production features an original score by Gill and co-composer Cindy Bright, Artis said.

“The main difference is the music," Artis said. "(Audiences) get to enjoy all original music, which definitely adds to our show. I think this version is representative of the classic story but still quite unique.

"The songs have their own tone, and they color the show in a different way, but it’s still a musical and it’s still entertaining.”

The cast includes many newcomers, Artis added.

“This is the first show at Riverwalk for a lot of the people in the cast besides me, and it’s just a really talented cast.

"There is so much energy going into their performance. For people familiar with Riverwalk, it’s worth it to come out to ‘Sleeping Beauty’ just to see these fresh faces. It’s an investment in the theater — getting people involved and keeping them here.”

The show stars Theresa Spisak as Beauty; Kyle Harwood as Prince Lionel; Rachel Mender as the villainous Midnight Faerie; Susie Coleman, Laura Johnson and Ashley Ault as the three good fairies; and Paul Levandowski and Susan DeRosa as the king and queen.

Artis, who was assistant director and choreographer for Riverwalk’s “Thunderhoof and the Prince” last year, is making her directorial debut with “Sleeping Beauty.”

She chose the show out of her love for children’s theater and classic fairy tales.

“I really enjoy catering to children, first of all,” she said. “I also wanted to do something that was familiar but unique in its own right. And I really love classics. Especially in trying times like these, people want to go and see classics, something familiar, something that they remember and can relate to.

“That really appealed to me. I grew up reading and watching these fairy tales and it’s very exciting for me to share this with them and welcome them into this world.”

Sleeping Beauty

7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 13 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15 (no
performances on Saturday, Aug. 14)
Riverwalk Theatre 228
Museum Drive, Lansing
$5 for children under 16 $7 for 16 and up