Troupers' `Emperor' is relevant, entertains



A fairy tale about palace schemers who say whatever their leader wants to hear in hopes of acquiring - or staying in - power remains as relevant today as when Hans Christian Andersen wrote it in 1837.

But that's only part of what makes the Moonlight Troupers' production of the musical comedy The Emperor's New Clothes so entertaining.

The show by the Anne Arundel Community College theater group opened Friday and continues this weekend, with the actors happily presenting their one-dimensional stock characters. The music, while generic, is tuneful with lyrics that remain witty ("I cannot endure those with the poor taste to be poor.")

Veteran director Jerry Vess makes sure the action moves briskly, with the cast making such smooth and quick scene changes that they become part of the entertainment.

Rob Berry's minimalist set is effective, allowing for plain bases to transform into a palace interior or a forest when topped appropriately. Barbara Marder's costumes are simple and attractive.

Theater major Eric Langenstein is everything a prince should be - kind, handsome and wise - with a fine singing voice, to boot.

As played by Brandon Deitrick, the Prince's companion Dudley is all bumbling and swagger, and Deitrick's powerful baritone adds dash to his duet with Langenstein's Prince.

The best voice in the show belongs to AACC vocal performance major Kristina Tardif, who plays the Princess with a graceful, natural charm and enhances the big love song "Your Face," a duet with Langenstein.

As her lady-in-waiting Millie, AACC student Kimberly Sonntag displays a sure comic touch.

Theater arts major Brendan Leahy delights as the malevolent Lord Mal, relishing his every nasty line as he hoodwinks the Emperor and pursues his evil plan of winning the Princess.

Theater arts and music student Andre Hinds as Constable is an accomplished comedian, hilarious as he confronts the Prince, rapidly donning an assortment of wigs to simultaneously serve as counselor for the defense, prosecutor, judge and jury. Hinds proves adept at scene stealing.

As the Emperor, Joel Loukus might be the only actor whose character must evolve. Loukus is hilarious admiring himself singing "I like the way I look" with the lines: "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the best-dressed king of all?"

When Loukus' emperor discovers that his new elegant birthday costume is nothing but his birthday suit, he welcomes the truth and grows as a wise ruler.

Eden Hansom as Becky and Rachel Parker as Vicki deserve mention, as does Arthur Sanchez who provides laughs as Lord Old.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. today and tomorrow and at 2 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday at AACC's Pascal Center for the Performing Arts on the Arnold campus. Call 410-777-2457 to reserve seats.

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