After 100 years asleep, the beautiful princess is waking up on the Rend Lake College stage for the fall play "The Sleeping Beauty of Loreland," set to open Thursday, Nov. 2 in the RLC Theatre, with shows running through Nov. 5.
The version of "Sleeping Beauty" coming to RLC's stage is a three-act play written by Frances Homer in 1935, and more closely resembles the original "Grimms' Fairy Tale" than the popular 1959 Disney film.
In this performance, Sleeping Beauty is cursed by a spiteful character -- the Black Fairy, ruler of the moon and stars -- who is not invited to the baby princess' Christening party. The Black Fairy curses the princess to death by a prick on her finger from a needle during her 15th year. The Sunlight Fairy, the Black Fairy's opposite as the ruler of the sun, softens the curse by ruling the princess will sleep for 100 years.
As the princess grows, the Queen promises her to marry Prince Rupert, the only eligible bachelor nearby, who disapproves of her free and happy life, constantly wishing to change her. Sleeping Beauty is not happy about the union and decides to prick her finger on purpose to escape her mother's plan. Not only does Sleeping Beauty fall asleep, but so does the whole palace, and the story resumes with a twist when they all wake.
Director Tracey Webb said this performance offers a different message to young audience members than the popular animated film.
"The prince who awakens Sleeping Beauty is actually in love with her before he ever actually sees her. This, to me, is a stronger message than the one in Disney's story. Good looks will fade in time, but to truly love a person, you have to love the way their mind works," Webb said. "It's a lively show and full of comedy."
As for the cast and crew, Webb said she's thrilled to have such an amenable group filling multiple roles and learning many new skills.
"The cast is so talented and that makes directing a joy. The most challenging part has been building the castle, because we don't have a separate crew to do it. My actors have doubled as talent and set crew. Volunteers and parents have stepped in to help too," Webb said. "There are also two dances in the show, so the actors have had to become dancers in just a few weeks. Some of the actors have never danced before. Performing on stage takes a lot of discipline. What has truly been rewarding is how the group has pulled together and become like an extended family."
The actor playing the part of Sleeping Beauty is no stranger to RLC's stage. Kyla Mitchell of Benton is an art major who performed in the 2016 play "The Legend of Robin Hood" and in the 2017 showing of "Flummoxed Fairytales." Despite not landing the role she wanted -- as the villain Black Fairy -- Mitchell said she's enjoying the lead role because of her character's personality.
"I love that Sleeping Beauty is so spirited. She has more to say about the things going on around her than I thought she would," Mitchell said. "She willingly goes into the 100-year sleep rather than marry the wrong guy."
Playing the role of Sleeping Beauty's mother is veteran RLC actor Deborah Petitt of Sesser. Petitt is a 2017 RLC graduate who has performed in no less than seven shows, plus backstage work as assistant stage manager for two more. Like Mitchell, Petitt also wanted the role of the Black Fairy, but is excited to take on a different villain.
"The Queen has a very dominant personality, which is exhibited in her relationship with the King," Petitt said. "My favorite line is, 'I made so many plans for her. But they didn't turn out how I expected,' and that says a lot about her. This is a family-friendly show filled with tons of humor, so come out and let us entertain you."
Playing the part of the King is Matt Loucks of Sesser, an RLC musical theater student. "The Sleeping Beauty of Loreland" will be his fourth show on stage after logging spots in "Les Miserables" and "The Wizard of Oz." Loucks said he had his eye on one of the prince roles, but is looking forward to bringing the King to life on stage.
"The King is a very passive character who wants what's best for the kingdom and his daughter, but also wants to be the nice guy while doing all of it," Loucks said. "After reading the script, I am quite happy with the role. I would suggest to anyone who loves theater to come out for one night."
Two different Princes will take the stage opening night. The first, Prince Rupert, is the man Sleeping Beauty is promised to marry, leading her to prick her finger in protest. Prince Rupert will be portrayed by Zion McMillan of Mt. Vernon, a music education major at RLC. This will be his debut performance.
Playing his opposite is Prince Delmar, portrayed by Garrett Jones of Bluford. This will be his third role on RLC's stage. This engineering major had not planned to audition, but did so to appease his actor friends.
Webb encourages everyone to spend an evening with the cast and crew of "The Sleeping Beauty of Loreland," and hopes everyone will enjoy the show as much as they have enjoyed getting ready for opening night.
"This is a family-friendly show. Good conquers evil and true love wins in the end. Best of all, there are moments of great tension and other moments of great comedy. The entire ensemble is working very well together, and I don't think anybody in the audience will go away disappointed," Webb said.
Ticket are on sale now for "The Sleeping Beauty of Loreland" and cost $12 each. Contact the box office to reserve a seat at 618-437-5321 ext. 1467.