“The Dead Prince” A Macbre Satire of Fairy-Tale Romance

Scott Cupper as the dead prince

The Strange Tree Group’s “The Dead Prince” is a comedic, musical romp through an enchanted forest with a genial and slightly daft band of minstrels, magic mirrors, thieves and, as you probably guessed, a dead prince. Penned by Emily Schwartz, the original production is a Python-esque take on romance and adventure in the fantasy universe with a pleasing string-driven score.

While in search of her one true love, Princess Sara (Ann Sonneville), refuses to believe that he could be dead, as all previous magic mirrors have informed her. Seeking the advice of the last reflective soothsayer and matchmaker, Sara again learns that her prince is indeed dead. However, the trapped wizard Maldorf (Michael Thomas Downey), the soul that inhabits the final mirror, informs her that he can be resurrected.

Maldorf offers to take the princess and her loyal and love-struck companion, Will, to the tomb of the dead prince. The princess agrees, but says she will only release the wizard after he has led them to the tomb. They find the prince’s tomb and after a little magic he his reanimated – or, at least, a little less dead. He’s not quite ambulatory and Maldorf   reveals that to truly bring him back to life, the two must return her kingdom and marry within one day.

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(left to right) Dan Behrendt as Leopold, Michael Thomas Downey as Maldorf the Mirror, Sarah Scanlon as Sallie and Kate Nawrocki as Tasha in The Strange Tree Group’s world premiere musical ‘The Dead Prince.’

The band,  joined by others, continues its journey and  of course runs in to plenty of obstacles along the way. While not the most original fable ever told, “The Dead Prince” is a fun fairy tale with an enjoyable soundtrack and impressive special effects. Cupper is quite comical as Adam, the dead prince, with the grace of a drunken zombie and the voice of a Monty Python character.

The entire production team deserves a round for a performance that once again highlights Strange Tree’s ability to build and utilize some pretty elaborate sets despite the smaller spaces they perform in. The ensemble of musicians, most of whom act in the play, also do a fine a job and I think the production would have benefited by putting more of their talent on display.

“The Dead Prince” runs through Sunday, Dec. 22 at The DCASE Storefront Theatre, 66. E. Randolph in Chicago. Curtain is Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available at www.strangetree.org.