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As Sleeping Beauty, actor Nancy Fueyo delivers Eleven O’Clock number in Dis!


When she was little Nancy Fueyo had a girl crush on Sleeping Beauty. “So it was kinda interesting that Annette asked me to play the part [after receiving my audition tape for Disenchanted: Stay-At-Home Version! It’s a new musical comedy from playwright/composer Dennis T. Giacino that Lab Theater is bringing to your screen on September 18 & 26 and October 4.

In Giacino’s iteration of this modern-day fairy tale mash-up, the princesses are back many years after their “happily ever after.” They’re jaded, opinionated totally unmitigated. But poor Sleeping Beauty! Thanks to her spindle-induced hundred year nap, she still battles residual narcolepsy. But that doesn’t blunt her newfound acerbic wit. “She’s the joker of the crew,” Fueyo relates.

The Sleeping Beauty of Fueyo’s childhood actually dates back in time to the 17th Century. [No wonder she sleeps a hundred years at a clip!] But the version that survives traces its origins to the Brothers Grimm, who nearly omitted the story from their compilation of fairy tales for being “too French.” (They ultimately included the story in their collection was because the fairy tale was similar to the German myth of Brynhild in the Völsunga saga, which served as Wagner’s inspiration for his Ring Cycle, among other things.)

The Grimm Brothers’ Sleeping Beauty is an intriguing role model. The boys called her Dornröschen or Little Briar Rose, which is sometimes adapted as Rosamond. She is pure, innocent, good to the core; and part of what makes her so good is her passivity. She wishes. She hopes. She dreams. (Go ahead and cue up some Dusty Springfield here.) But she has to rely on her prince’s kiss not just to awaken from her hundred years’ stupor, but to fulfill her destiny. Yes, he’s the pro-active one in the story, hacking his way through a thicket of thorns and brambles to make her dreams come true. And when she opens her baby blues, what does she say? Absolutely nothing. She doesn’t utter a single word for the rest of the story! Her damn story. She’s a beautiful empty vessel; a living blow-up doll for the man who claims her.

As such, the Little Briar Rose does provide a handy-dandy template for girls and young women to emulate if they wish to be desirable for their prince:

  • Be shy, act nervous around people, seem vulnerable;
  • But at the same time, act kind, friendly and sweet (and never seem rude);
  • Be respectful; go about your tasks and chores without any hint of complaint (no muss, no fuss);
  • Whistle while you work (no, wait, that’s a different story), but by all means sing, hum and dance as you go about your day, especially while you’re working;
  • Live in the realm of possibility, dreaming about the perfect guy, perfect job, perfect home, perfect vaca (well, you get the drift);
  • Move through life like a ballerina, with grace, poise and perfect posture (avoid harsh movements);
  • Care deeply and act romantically toward your guy, smiling sweetly, holding his hand and looking lovingly into his eyes.

In other words, Sleeping Beauty’s job is to at all times play the damsel in distress – providing her guy with the chance so many men long for – to be the knight (shining armor optional). An air of sadness helps, but it’s important not to say too much (or anything at all). Rather, the key is to let the guy sense that she’s had too little love and gotten a completely raw deal in life through no fault of her own.

Alas Sleeping Beauty, be careful what you wish for, because the foregoing personality traits appeal to a specific type of guy – a rescuer – but rescuers come with a host of problems of their own. Sure, they may truly want to help, but their sensitive nature belies a perverse need to feel superior and be in control. Your prince, Sleeping Beauty, may be no prize at all.

Sleeping Beauty is not just problematic for the behavior standards she sets for both girls and boys. She’s exactly the same from the start to the finish of the story. If a college creative writing student wrote a story that lacked a character arc for the protagonist, they’d get an “F.” But the Beauty’s unchanging nature is precisely the point. She’s pure, innocent and good from start to finish, and it’s her unwavering adherence to the behavior that’s expected of her that guarantees her happy ending.

But, fortunately enough, you won’t find that Sleeping Beauty in Disenchanted: Stay-At-Home Version. The new edition of this princess is funny bordering on obnoxious, irreverent and in-your-face (or at least she’s in Snow White’s face). And she wears a blouse emblazoned with the name of her evil stepmother, Maleficent, in recognition of the fact that society has moved, mercifully, from an era in which women wait to be saved by a man into one where women are their own heroes and empowered to deftly overcome the obstacles and competently solve the problems they encounter on their journey through life.

“Yet, she has a soft side,” cautions Fueyo. “Her song is like the Eleven O’Clock Number in the show. She comes out, does her thing and kind of kills everybody [proclaiming] we’re not perfect, but we are who we are.”

And when it comes to song and musicality, Dis! viewers are in for a real treat. Fueyo’s voice and tonal quality have been likened to Ethel Merman and Liza Minelli.

“It’s a really fun song and a really good time,” Nancy promises.

Disenchanted: A New Musical Comedy! screens twice in September with a finale on October 4. Go here for all the details.

September 1, 2020.

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