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Once Upon a Wrinkle

WOW Fall 1999 Production

Lovely Princess Greta of the Golden Braids and her 5-year younger twin sister, Yetta the Younger, again celebrate their 39/34th birthdays.  In the grand tradition of fairy tales, they all live happily ever after, but not without turmoil caused by witches casting evil spells.  They encounter dancers and villains and a variety of characters appearing as if by magic as they traverse the Enchanted Forest seeking Cosmo the Wizard, who might break the spell.  Michele Penberthy, Terry Shaw, and Wendy Jewett combined their respective directorial, musical, and choreographic skills to produce a rollicking love story filled with music and dance.

Not enough can be said about the contribution of these three individuals.  This was Michele’s sixth show and with each she has pushed the envelope bringing the level of performance to where it is now.  Many an audience member remarked that "Once Upon a Wrinkle" was a major achievement in local theater, and the best yet.

This show was Terry’s debut with WOW, but he came with impeccable credentials.  With consummate skill (musical and personal) he took this bunch of crotchety seniors and £showstopper.  An entire coven of witches danced around their cauldron, cackling with wicked glee.  It was a fitting finale to Act One, as evil had gained the upper hand, the princesses were in despair, and the entire kingdom was inundated with frogs.  Worse yet, the Wizard was yet to be found.

This was direction, musical direction, and choreography at its very best.

Among the many features of this remarkable show was outstanding set design and construction.  Moving from a medieval castle to an enchanted forest to a magic mountain and back to the castle called for creative genius.  Lyle Russell came through (as usual) beyond anyone’s reasonable expectations.  Adroit use of drops, a wishing well, a log, rail fencing, a footbridge, and a Wizard’s retirement palace produced a wonderland ambiance that would prompt even the most cynical to believe in fairy tales.

This was direction, musical direction, and choreography at its very best.

It is the princesses birthday party, but evil is soon afoot.  With "Catlike Tread", Rasputum (Leonard Vickerstaff) and his villainous henchmen plot to steal the Golden Braids.  But for the moment there is still joy in the realm as Princess Yetta the Younger (Julia Taylor) sings her traditional birthday tune, "When You Wish Upon a Star."  While some might view wishing on stars as an opiate for the incurably romantic, it is not so for Yetta - and, after a multitude of vicissitudes, her wish really does come true.  She is soon joined at the party by Princess Greta of the Golden Braids (Mary Petzold), who remarks "It’s a Most Unusual Day."  And indeed it is, for she must bid a fond farewell to her childhood playmate, Lancelot (Bob Williams), as he leaves the kingdom to seek his true identity.  Before his departure, he promises Greta that "I’ll See You Again."  After that things really turn sour for Greta and the Camelotians, as the three UGLY witches cast a spell that converts virtually all the men into (ugh) frogs!  With a chorus of "Greta's Song", a truly lovely melody composed by WOW’s own Newt Buker ringing in their ears, Greta, formerly of the Golden Braids, Marta, her Maid-in-Waiting (Mary Margaret McFarland), and Surely U. Jester (Bill Dergan) depart the kingdom on their quest to find the Wiz, who might restore order and love.

The scene now shifts to the Enchanted Forest, where frogs and other fascinating critters and characters abound.  Frogs come first, with a quartet of them (Lyle Russell, Newt Buker, Bob Williams, and Floyd Smith) observing that "It Isn’t Easy Being Green."  After Marta so beautifully reminds Greta that she must "Try to Remember", more frogs return, this time in a Frog-line ballet that is yet another gem in Wendy Jewett’s lockbox of creativity.  Among the highlights of the Enchanted Forest are Goldilox (Joanie Roper) casting her "Old Black Magic" on Elvis (Chuck Gourley), who promptly gets "All Shook Up."  After they depart to tune his g-string, now enter the Big Bad Wolf (Don Hancock) and Little Red Riding Hood (Jeanne Vosburgh).  In a delightful skit, he howls "Hey There, Little Red Riding Hood" to an unreceptive but hysterically funny victim who is not entirely convinced that she really cares to be "everything a big bad wolf would want."  The weary travelers exit the forest at the Fourth Avenue Troll Bridge, guarded by an oddly friendly troll who, it turns out, was formerly Captain Courageous of the Palace Guard (Sonny Hemingway).  He is yet another victim of the evil witches, but despite his plight, this is one upbeat troll.  He greets the day (and his visitors) with a snappy chorus of "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning."

Like wishes on stars, dreams join the ranks of opiates for the hopelessly romantic, as Lyle Russell opens the second act with "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes", and the scene moves to the Magic Mountain, home turf of the Wizard. Dancers caper to "The Lonely Goatherd", and Mary Cullen is magical in a Unicorn Ballet.  At long last, our dauntless heroine locates the stately mansion of Cosmo the Wizard (Vaude deVille).  He explains that, although it makes fools of everyone, "Love Changes Everything", and he will undertake to help Greta remove the vile witch's curse.  Thus ends a 39 month trek, and a return to the castle is in order. En route, the now happy wanderers look right through a remarkably invisible man - "Mr. Cellophane" (Newt Buker), who delivers a showstopper of the same name.  In a lovely reprise of "Love Changes Everything", Cosmo and Marta, long-parted lovers, are reunited.

Because all their men have become amphibians, and ugly ones at that, back at the castle women are left to do all the work.  Prince Pillip (Bob Freested) is truly sympathetic, pointing out with just a hint of chauvinism and more than a hint of sexism, that "work is what women do."  He then reminds them that "It Takes a Woman", to shovel the ice, and get rid of the mice, and take on other such typically feminine chores.  While there is little joy in the kingdom, there is a delightful "Tarantella" that boosts morale, if only a bit.

As Princess Greta and her entourage approach the castle, Big Mac and Archie (Bernie Brady and Joan Forst), chefs extraordinaire, who have sought to capitalize on an overabundance of frog legs, are sentenced by a most severe Queen Regina (Dorothy Honeycutt) to 39 years of middle school lunchroom duty. Horrors! They plead their case - "Our Love is Here To Stay", and the incurably romantic Queen commutes their sentence.  You see, love does change everything!

The entourage returns, Rasputum is foiled again, Golden Braids are restored, frogs are unfrogged, Princess Yetta finally gets her man, and even witches must succumb to the magical power of the Wizard.  Lancelot finds his true identity and within minutes is knighted, declared a Prince of Camelot, and betrothed to the lovely Princess Greta.  He assures his bride to be "I Have Dreamed" - oh, to be loved by you - a sentiment shared by one and all, especially the incurable romantics.

Hand in hand, they trudge into the sunset, and EVERYONE LIVES HAPPILY EVER AFTER!!!

Major Characters


Greta, she of the golden braids, whose kiss makes a lot of froglegs

Mary Petzold

Yetta, can’t marry ’til Greta the old maid does

Julia Taylor

Surely U, the Jester, funny hat, funny clothes, funny man

Bill Dergan

Marta, Lady in Waiting, who knew that love changes everything

Mary Margaret McFarland

Rasputum, chief villain, desperately covets the golden braids

Leonard Vickerstaff

Lancelot, our hero (sigh) who seeks his true identity

Dr. Robert Williams

Goldilox/Beauty, fleeing bears or dancing with beasts, she's gorgeous

Joanie Roper

Cosmo the Wizard, all his wisdom disappears, but love conquers all

Vaude deVille

Wart, Blemish, and Flaw - ugly, mean and nasty. These witches end up sort of reformed, but not much

Chris Brewis-Roberts
Georgia Williams
Mary Patnode

Beggar, invisible - Mr. Cellophane

Newt Buker

Elvis, at his hippy best

Chuck Gourley

Captain Courageous, Yetta’s intended, now a troll guarding the 4th Avenue bridge

Sonny Hemingway

Queen Regina and Prince Pillip, who bear the blame for the two spoiled princesses

Dorothy Honeycutt
Robert Freested

You may "click" on the photos to see a larger one.

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