Briefly Noted: Frolicking with ‘Fairycakes’ at Greenwich House Theater

The cast of "Fairycakes" at the final performance

By Jonathan Spira on 22 November 2021
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Douglas Carter Beane’s “Fairycakes,” a lighthearted frolic starring Ann Harada, Jackie Hoffman, and Julie Halston among others, offers the audience the experience of what Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” might be like on LSD by adding in characters from children’s stories including Cinderella, Geppetto, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, and Sleeping Beauty.

Beane takes great liberties with the original characters (Geppetto and the Prince from “Sleeping Beauty” fall in love, at least for a short while) but the romp kept the audience in stitches until the very end.

Given the play’s Shakespearian origins, the cast largely speaks in couplets and Gregory Gale dressed the fairies and their cohorts in what must be the most colorful costumes that the post-lockdown theater season has seen.

Halston and Arnie Burton portray Titania and Oberon, the king and queen of the fairies, here, as in Shakespeare’s version, engaged in a marital quarrel.  Hoffman and Harada along with Kristolyn Lloyd and Z Infante are Titania’s fairy daughters, Jamen Nanthakumar is the handsome young Indian prince Titania wants to bed (and Oberon certainly does not wish to knight), and Chris Myers is a delightful (and shirtless) Puck.

Puck relentlessly flirts with Lloyd’s rather reluctant Peasebottom, upon whom he bestows the name Fairycakes, as in the play’s title.

If you have followed along so far, be forewarned that Halston also portrays a rather stiff collared Queen Elizabeth I, Burton a pirate, and Harada a mermaid, while Nanthakumar also has the role of Cricket and Cinderella’s wicked stepmother and Infante also plays the Princess from “Sleeping Beauty.”

Jason Tam plays the Prince (in black tie) as well as Cupid, dressed in a very immodest gold loincloth.

Quick costume change, anyone?

Theatergoers receive a rather stern warning from Jackie Hoffman before they even enter the theater.  A sign prominently placed at the entrance (and repeated in larger form on stage) tells the audience, “’Turn your cell phone off.’ -Jackie Hoffman.” One can just imagine Hoffman’s stern gaze, perhaps in her trademark cat-eye glasses or in character as Yente the Matchmaker, one of her recent roles, leaving nothing to the imagination.

The audience did indeed frolic throughout the performance (I was at the closing performance) and the well-known cast received considerable entrance applause as well as a two-minute standing ovation.

Best of all, nary a mobile phone rang.


Final performance: November 21, 2021
Greenwich House Theater
27 Barrow Street
New York, N.Y. 10014

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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