Adventure Theatre: Ella Enchanted

  • playing at Adventure Theatre MTC (Glen Echo, MD)
  • dates: now through March 19, 2017
  • directed by Mary Hall Surface
  • book by Karen Zacarias
  • music by Deborah Wicks La Puma
  • Roar Score: 4/5

It’s been a while since we caught a show at Adventure Theatre. When the kids were younger, shows there were one of our reliable standbys. Unclaimed weekend? Odds are, we found our way to Glen Echo Park for a show at either Adventure Theatre or its neighbor, The Puppet Co.

So it was with some excitement that we recently attended the opening of Adventure Theatre’s newest show: Ella Enchanted.

The musical is based on the Newbery Honor book by Gail Carson Levine, which was also made into a film starring a young Anne Hathaway. The story is ultimately a take on the Cinderella fairy tale, but it’s different enough to still keep the attentions of kids who might be tired of the original story.

On the occasion of her birth, Baby Ella of the kingdom of Frell is given a gift by Lucinda, her often misguided fairy: the gift of obedience. Though the “gift” was given with the best of intentions, it means that Ella is forever compelled to do whatever anyone tells her to do. She cannot disobey or refuse to follow any order, no matter what it is.

Obviously, this is pretty much a terrible curse.

As she grows up, she realizes that she cannot keep this secret to herself forever. Indeed, her evil stepsisters discover the curse and use it to their advantage. In response, Ella runs away to find Lucinda and convince her to reverse the spell. And along the way, she encounters giants, trolls, fairies, and other magical creatures. Frell is full of ’em.

As expected, Adventure Theatre has staged a phenomenal performance of the show. Their theater is small, but they always manage to pack a lot of amazingness into the space.

The music, by Deborah Wicks La Puma (who also wrote the music for Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play! and OLIVÉRio) is catchy, funny, and sweet.

Malinda Kathleen Reese turns in a fantastic performance as Ella. She manages to cover a wide spectrum during the show’s one-hour runtime: sweet, naive, brave, self-confident, and assertive. And she carries the show admirably well. Shanta Parasuraman, however, stole the show for my kids as Olive – the somewhat…mentally challenged stepsister.

Dare I say it? Yes, Ella Enchanted is enchanting. You really can’t go wrong with Adventure Theatre, and they’ve proven it once again.

Ella Enchanted is playing at Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park (7300 MacArthur Blvd in Glen Echo, MD) through March 19, 2017. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 301-634-2270.

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