A Fairy Tale Adventure

Written by Sophia Holder.

Music & Lyrics by Justin Kono, Aaron Kaplan and Michael Goldman.

Directed by Brad Kisner.

Choreographed by Annie Snow.

Music Direction by Aaron Kaplan.

At Edgewood Middle School Theater, Highland Park.

Produced by Highland Park Players.

In Search of “Happily Ever After.”

Once upon a time there lived two beautiful young princesses.  One was named Kayla and the other Jacey, and they had become as close as sisters but born into two very different kingdoms.  Their parents both loved them each very much, but their kingdoms had been placed under a powerful spell that only Kayla and Jacey could undo.  Kayla’s hard-working mother Renee was enslaved to a selfish and evil ogre, while Jacey’s father Chuck (or “Sleeping Handsome,” as she calls him) was bewitched by a “Time Management” clock and could be awoken only by the love of the fairest lady in the land.  Kayla and Jacey would need some special magic to bring their two broken kingdoms together, so they set out together on an adventure to an enchanted fairy land known as “Live Theatre”.

Before we can see our little story through to its “happily ever after” conclusion, I must first introduce you to a rather remarkable band of fairies known as “Highland Park Players,” whose magical talents and abilities have enabled them to touch and inspire the lives of both young and old.  Renee and Kayla had been my invited “Guest Reviewers” for last year’s marvelous HPP Theater for Young Audiences’ production of “Winnie the Pooh,” and now found themselves joining forces with Jacey and Chuck on a delightful musical “Fairy Tale Adventure”.  In about an hour, my young V.I.P.’s (that is Very Important Princesses, special for the occasion) made the acquaintance of 14 other familiar fairy tale characters also in search of their own “happily ever after”.

We discovered that Hansel and Gretel, Paddy the Gingerbread Man, Snow White, The Pied Piper, The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor (of invisible clothes fame), and Goldilocks were all inhabitants of Fairy Tale land ruled by a quite unorthodox Fairy.  Renee marveled how a very large man like Scott Spector was able to pull off his Fairy role so well attired in pink leotard, tutu and glitter in his beard, but such is the magic of “Live Theatre”.  Chuck and Renee both agreed that Highland Park Players have done a remarkable job of making their “Fairy Tale Adventure” entertaining and appropriate to both children and adults by incorporating sometimes subtle jokes and innuendo with the broad humor everyone loved.

While our entire entourage agreed that Scott Spector’s deep-voiced Fairy was a favorite, the “evil” characters were nearly as much fun.  Denise Tamburrino’s Witch was hilarious and loud (Kayla’s description) as she schemed to overhaul Fairy Land, throw out the happy endings, and imprison the heroes for her own dastardly purposes.  Can you say “Hostile Takeover”?  Both of our princesses laughed themselves silly when the witch farted, and musical theatre geeks in the audience (yours truly included) will love her attempt to add a “Wicked” flourish to her big number.  Patrick Luce’s dim-witted Emperor likewise gets a strategically placed fig leaf and a warning to watch out that a certain “Technicolor Dreamcloak” composer might sue for plagiarism.  Sabra Gerber’s Willow Tree and Abigail Rakocy’s Birch Tree both scored high marks from Kayla and Jacey as they provided sassy service and support to the Witch.

Along our journey we made some important and insightful discoveries.  Katie Zarletti demonstrated great versatility as a Dwarf with multiple personalities…seven to be exact, and all with the flip of a hat and change of voice.  Terrific acting chops Katie!  Jacey felt compassion and sympathy for Brent Walker’s Paddy the Gingerbread Man when it was said that “He was never too smart and he was half-baked.”  Kayla found Jen Houghton’s transformation from Ugly Duckling into beautiful Swan very cool, which reminded Jacey that we should never judge a book by its cover.  Our little gang agreed that “We are all different,” which helps to make our journey fun and exciting.

Kudos to playwright Sophia Holder and composers Justin Kono, Aaron Kaplan and Michael Goldman for constructing an original “Adventure” that is sweet, tuneful and delightful entertainment for the entire family.  Martha Shuford’s costume designs are amazing and whimsical, the props clever and well chosen, and Annie Snow’s choreography lively and well performed.  Our two real-life princesses Kayla and Jacey and their parents Renee and Chuck discovered the moral that sometimes the best families do not have to be blood related, and that love, kindness and team work trump evil every time.  Kayla and Jacey are now charged to share their marvelous adventure with all the friends in their kingdoms because the best kind of magic is the kind that we can share with others.

Highly Recommended.

Review by Joe Stead.

Date Reviewed: February 11, 2017.

“A Fairy Tale Adventure” plays February 11, 12, 18 & 19, 2017 at 11 am and 1 pm at Edgewood Middle School Theater in Highland Park.  The original musical is presented by Highland Park Players.  Tickets are general admission, good for any performance, and are available for purchase online at for $11.  Tickets purchased online will be available at the theatre will call.  Tickets are also available for purchase at the door.  Characters will greet and sign autographs after the one-hour performance, suitable for all ages.  Also visit the Theatre in Chicago page.