'Rapunzel' uses an old story to get lots of new laughs

March 04, 1994|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Special to The Sun

Duncan Hood, actor, parodist, impresario and wise guy supreme, is at it again at the Annapolis Dinner Theater, where Under the Hood Productions is presenting "Rapunzel" for children of all ages Saturday mornings through May 21.

The Brothers Grimm it ain't. Oh, the plot rings familiar bells, what with a long-tressed maiden, her domineering witch of a mom and a smitten prince eager to win her. But the Hood imagination uses the tried-and-true story line as a mere point of departure.

Mary Armour's Rapunzel is a nasal-twanged waif with ugly glasses who is forced to answer the phone all day at her mother Gadzooka's corporate witch franchise: "Gadzooka's Spells Charms and Incidental Voodoo. How do. How do we do for you?"

Carol Cohen is her usual hilarious self as the overbearing, supernatural matriarch.

Rapunzel's royal suitor is James Gallagher, sporting an improbable Eastern European accent as Prince Mario of Romania, who rescues the girl with the help of his valiant steed, Helmut.

When equine assistance isn't enough, the prince turns to his loyal assistant, Maguire, played as a Brooklyn "dese, dem and dose" tough guy by Peter Kaiser.

You'll note the obvious here. Ms. Cohen, Ms. Armour, Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Kaiser are four of the most prodigiously talented actors around. "Rapunzel" may be a show for children, but there's no slumming allowed.

The Hood sense of whimsy is everywhere. Alliterations abound, there are snide social comments pertaining to Madonna, health care and Kevin Costner, among others, and we're never far from "Naked Gun" humor. "Hoof it!" the impatient witch tells her underling, who begins to tap dance.

As always in Under the Hood shows, there is a great deal of interaction between the cast and the youngsters in the audience, which thrills the children no end.

Mac Bogert's musical score is cute, though the cast might bring it off with a bit more brio and accuracy. One extended recitative is particularly uneventful, and the lead singer made a faulty entrance in "One Witch Town" that put the ensemble a beat ahead of the taped accompaniment through the entire song.

The production is handsomely mounted, and for a mere $8.95 a pizza, ice cream and a pitcher of Coke are included.

Now that's a happy ending.

The Annapolis Dinner Theater is on U.S. 50. For tickets, call 757-9450.

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