Workhouse Arts Center takes a look inside Sleeping Beauty-The Broken Spell
On Saturday, February 9, the W-3 Theatre was packed with children and their families, anxiously waiting to see if Sleeping Beauty would find her true love and wake up from her sleeping spell. Following Magical the magician through his journey to wake the princess, the audience gasped and cheered as they helped Sleeping Beauty search for her happily ever after.
Written, produced and directed by Vianlix Mestey, CEO of Mestey Films Productions, Sleeping Beauty-The Broken Spell is an interactive children’s theater production that brings a classic fairytale to life with an unexpected twist. “No one has seen this version before,” says Mestey, so she encourages children to explore exactly how Sleeping Beauty finds her happy ending. A heartwarming production about true love, Mestey says there are several themes she wants children to remember after viewing the play: “bullying is bad, don’t talk to strangers, and you should be accepted for who you are.” Kyle Marquis, who plays Prince, adds that through this story children will learn, “everyone is beautiful in their own way.”
While Sleeping Beauty-The Broken Spell is Mestey’s second children’s theater production at the Workhouse Arts Center, this story created many first opportunities for the cast and Mestey’s creativity. Sleeping Beauty-The Broken Spell was Mestey’s first fairytale production and in the process she requested advice from the professionals of children’s stories – her daughter and nephew. “I wrote the first act and read it aloud to them. They thought it was so boring, so I changed things a little. When I read it to them the second time, they were laughing and really enjoying the story.”
With the exception of Ariel Gonzales (Magical) and Vianlix-Christine Schneider (Whiskers the cat), Sleeping Beauty-The Broken Spell was the first time this group of cast members worked together, but on stage it hardly seemed the case. The actors collectively agreed that everyone was a joy to work with and hearing how much fun the kids were having made it even more worthwhile. As an experienced actress in film, but brand new to stage performing, Pamela Warren (Lady Sara) anticipated needing time to adjust to theater. However, it was the opposite – she instantly felt welcomed by the cast on the first day. “It was just like playing, and it would take hours for me to wind down from all of the energy after rehearsals,” she brightly exclaims. “I just hope the kids are having as much fun as we are.” Adam Puleo, also familiar with the film industry, says it feels good to be back in theater. With children’s theater, he likes that he can just be “ridiculous, goofy and over the top.” It was an overall “great experience, working with new people and a great cast.”
For Samantha Franklin (Beauty), Sleeping Beauty-The Broken Spell was her first professional production after graduating from Ferrum College. At the first rehearsal, Franklin felt really connected to the cast. “You can just be loose and trust what’s going on, which I think helped with the chemistry on stage.” A fan of the West End Theatre which closed recently, Franklin was excited to bring back children’s theater and introduce local art to kids. “It was really fun, the way they react. They’re really young so there are no filters. You can just be silly [on stage] and talk to the kids.”
Gonzales and Schneider previously worked together in Mestey’s first children’s production, A Magical Christmas in December, but this fairytale was a different experience for both of them. Gonzales, whose character Magical interacts with the audience, was happy that he didn’t have to play an evil character this time that would scare the kids. “It’s fun being able to bring laughter to the children and seeing how they respond,” smiles Gonzales. Schneider, a crowd favorite, says she liked “saying meow” and interacting with the audience.
Mestey says she loves directing the entire production from start to end. When hearing the laughter from the kids, she knows that it was worth every single hour spent in the studio and rehearsal. Gonzales believes that theater brings an outlet of culture and performing arts to the community. Warren adds that children’s theater provides a great break in the day, “You never know what anyone’s going through, so watching this fantasy story allows you to be lost in the moment for a while.” Gonzales and Warren admit that as cliché as it sounds, the experience is “truly magical.”
For Mestey’s next production, Cinderella: The True Story, Mestey gives us a sneak peek on what to expect. “We all know the story of the girl who goes to the ball to find a prince. But sometimes, Cinderella just wants to know why her stepsisters and stepmother are so mean to her.” With the help of a fairy godmother (played by Schneider), we will see what Cinderella learns about her family.
Sleeping Beauty-The Broken Spell will be showing every Saturday until March 2nd at the Workhouse Arts Center W-3 Theatre. Cinderella: The True Story will be shown on Saturdays March 30th through April 27th. Shows are selling out fast. Buy your tickets today by clicking here!
Have you already seen Sleeping Beauty-The Broken Spell? Tell us what you think about the production here!
THIS WEEK AT THE WORKHOUSE
- Collectors Showcase 2013, January 26- February 23 in the McGuireWoods Gallery.
- Josh DeWeese, February 6-March 10 in the McGuireWoods Gallery.
- Combat Paper Project Exhibition, February 15 in Studio Building W-4.
- Sleeping Beauty—The Broken Spell, Children’s Theater in W-3 Theatre, February 16 at 1pm.
- Cecil Ray Comedy Club, in W-3 Theatre, February 16 at 7pm.
- Ballroom Social Dance in the McGuireWoods Gallery, February 16, 7:30-10:30pm.
- Date Night: Chef’s Table in Vulcan Gallery, February 16, 8-10pm.
- Workhouse Associate Artists February 6-March 3, Vulcan Gallery.
- February exhibitions in all seven studio buildings, Vulcan Gallery.
- Workhouse Prison Museum in Building W-9.
Stop by and visit us!
The Workhouse is open Wednesday – Saturday from 11am – 7pm and Sundays from 12 – 5pm. The Workhouse Prison Museum is open Wednesday – Friday from 12 – 3pm and Saturday – Sunday from 12 – 4pm. Visit www.WorkhouseArts.org for more information, to purchase tickets or to register for classes.
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