The classic fairytale formula has seen its fair share of the spotlight to the point where even the youngest among us could recite it by heart. The distressed princess meets her fated prince, who eventually leads them both to their happily ever after. Although undeniably classic, this formula has so saturated modern media that works featuring it run the risk of coming off as uninspired and boring.
Yet sticking to the classic formula can birth phenomenal works, especially when it’s flipped on its head and allowed to evolve sincerely without sacrificing the intrinsic joy and silliness that comes with the notion of happily ever after.
That’s the case with GALA Hispanic Theatre’s current GALita production, PRÍNCIPE Y PRÍNCIPE (Prince & Prince). The play for young audiences, written by Perla Szuchmacher and adapted and directed by El Chelito, follows a young prince as he grapples with his looming future. As his mother, la Reina (Luz Nicolás), begins to consider retirement, el Príncipe (Rodin Alcerro) must finally consider how he wants to shape his own future — the first step? finding a suitable partner to rule at his side.
Throughout its 60-minute run, Príncipe is delightfully whimsical in every way. El Chelito’s directorial prowess and experience with children’s theater are on full display as each scene is captivating and filled with fairytale wonder. Under his guidance, Príncipe flourishes beautifully and captures all the best qualities of children’s theater — childlike simplicity and heartwarming storytelling. His direction elevates the play’s otherwise simple story to delightful new heights as Príncipe charms even the adult members of its audience with its infectious energy and character-driven theatrics.
The charming and hilarious cast of Príncipe takes El Chelito’s direction and soars. Even the most minor characters are memorable as the cast breathes life into them. Alcerro’s performance is especially poignant. He captures every moment of el Príncipe’s doubt and joy beautifully, allowing the audience to grow attached to his character even as the titular prince eventually embraces what he really wants — and finds his very own prince charming.
Throughout Príncipe, all five cast members engage in witty banter, astute sight gags, and situational humor that leaves the audience genuinely amused. While some of the play’s comedic elements border on loud and eccentric, the humor never feels overbearing. Rather, the cast of Príncipe strikes that perfect balance between humor and sincerity that allows the audience to fully appreciate the play in its entirety.
In doing so, the cast ultimately demonstrates the true strength of this play — its subtle complexity. Through masterful use of body language and other elements of nonverbal performance, the cast delivers multi-layered portrayals of each of their characters. Their comedic antics never undercut the sincerity behind their actions; rather the play’s innate silliness only works complementarily.
This strength is most evident in the dancing that carries throughout the play. Although it starts as a running gag, much to the audience’s delight, el Príncipe relationship to dancing evolves into something much more tender and pure. As he eventually grows and learns to embrace the love he truly yearns for, el Príncipe and his dance seamlessly move from humorous to heartwarming.
In tandem with its excellent cast and performance elements, Príncipe excels in its technical elements. The lighting and sound design by Hailey LaRoe and Navid Azeez respectively play well into the play’s fairytale roots. Moreover, the simple grace of Alison Johnson’s costume design is captivating. La Reina’s stunning red dress is regal and perfectly captures her majesty’s loud and fun character. Meg Holden’s set, with its gorgeous hand-painted backgrounds, is simple but aesthetically pleasing and notably effective in capturing the fairytale origins of the play.
Through its indelible charm and heart that pervade even the most lighthearted sequences, Príncipe is able to perfectly balance humor and sentimentality, leaving a lasting impression on its audience.
Running Time: 60 minutes with no intermission.
PRÍNCIPE Y PRÍNCIPE (Prince & Prince) plays through March 25, 2023, at GALA Hispanic Theatre, 3333 14th Street NW, Washington, DC. Tickets ($12, adults; $10, children) can be purchased online or by calling (202) 234-7174. Tickets are also available on Goldstar and TodayTix. Bilingual.
Public performances are Saturdays March 11 and March 18 at 3 pm. Student matineesare weekdays March 13–17 and March 20–24 at 10:30 am. The show is appropriate for all ages, especially for children ages 5–12.
COVID Safety: The wearing of masks is optional IF you are fully vaccinated, pursuant to CDC guidelines, and have received an updated bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine. The wearing of masks is required IF you are fully vaccinated, pursuant to CDC guidelines, but have NOT received an updated bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine, or if you are not vaccinated. All patrons ages 5 and up MUST provide either proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative COVID test (taken within 72 hours prior to show time) to be admitted to the theatre. Children 0-4 years old accompanied by fully vaccinated parents do not need to show proof of a negative COVID test. Masks are optional and proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test is required for all public performances.
PRÍNCIPE Y PRÍNCIPE (Prince & Prince)
By Perla Szuchmacher
Adapted and directed by El Chelito
Rodin Alcerro (Prince)
Delbis Cardona (Bulter)
Sam Fromkin (Servant/Twin 2/Shooting Star/Prince Charming)
Luz Nicolás (Queen)
Cristina Sánchez (Handmaiden/Princess Said/Princess Henriette/Twin 1/Princess Aria/Princess Celeste)