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Thursday, Sep 20, 2018
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Comedy of fed up Disney princesses opens at Straz Center

What little girl hasn't dreamed of being a Disney princess, finding her prince charming and living happily ever after?

But what if the life of a beloved fair maiden wasn't all it was cracked up to be and once upon a time was now?

That's the story behind “Disenchanted,” a comedy “that gives fairy tales the bird.”

“I was totally into Snow White when I was a little girl,” said Michelle Knight, who plays the character Snow White in the production. “I still have (Snow White) figurines, coloring books and all kinds of memorabilia. Like most girls, I bought into the whole handsome prince saves the day. As I grew up, I realized life isn't like that and you get an electric bill.”

“Disenchanted,” created by two former Disney World employees, tells the story of Disney princesses — Snow White (Knight), Cinderella (Breanne Pickering), Hua Mulan, Pocahontas and Princess Badroulbador (all played by Lulu Picart), Sleeping Beauty (Becca McCoy), Belle, The Little Mermaid and Rapunzel (Kali Rabaut) and The One Who Kissed the Frog (Erika Dunlap), who refuse to be damsels in distress any longer. The women tackle issues such as body image, self-esteem and sexuality with a dose of humor and song.

The musical satire is playing at the Straz through April 13. Don't bring your children; this show is intended for adults.

As “the fairest in the land,” Disney's first princess, Snow White, is the ring-leader of this feisty group, and it's a role Knight relishes.

“She's me, amplified 10 degrees,” said Knight, an Orlando native. “She is powerful, beautiful, strong and a bit of a control freak. She's the original den mother who's trying to stay in control of the craziness going on around her.”

Knight, who originated the role during the 2011 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, also reprised the role at the Orlando Shakespeare Festival's Goldman Theater and in New York City at both the Peter Jay Sharp Theater and Don't Tell Mama Cabaret Theater.

She also has performed on Broadway in “Jersey Boys,” and “Chicago,” and currently stars in “Finding Nemo, the Musical” at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Knight, 34, said she immediately knew she wanted to be part of the “Disenchanted” cast when she read an audition notice: “looking for a cast of princesses with attitudes.”

“I was excited to see what it was all about,” she said. “And the role is unlike anything I've done before.”

Although “Disenchanted” is heavy on the fairy-tale parody, its message is very real.

“Being real matters,” Knight added. “Not subscribing to the idea you are a size two and have to be over-sexual to matter in society today. You are perfect as you are, and happily ever after isn't what you should strive for. Even princesses have problems.”

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