“You’ve been hoodwinked, baby!”
This animated whodunit is a glorious satire of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. The animation isn’t stellar, but the story makes up for it and will actually keep you guessing til the end. Great fun with an all-star voice cast, I think it’s time to investigate this film further…
“What’s the Name of What’s His Name?” – Half-Past Wednesday
Music: Robert Colby Lyrics: Robert Colby & Nita Jonas
Richard Jenkins, a film actor you’ve probably never heard of but seen in almost everything, was born on this day in 1947. This tune is a salute to all those actors out there who are oh-so-familiar-looking but often unknown by name. During the spry number, the company tries to guess the name of the imp Rumpelstiltskin in this musical version of the tale.
“Her Voice” – The Little Mermaid
Music: Alan Menken Lyrics: Glenn Slater
Long before Tangled, Alan Menken began his foray into the land of fairy tales composing music for the film The Little Mermaid with lyricist Howard Ashman, earning him the first (and second) of many Oscars to come. This Menken song where Prince Eric obsesses over an encounter with the beautiful mermaid Ariel was added to the score for the stage version, this time with lyrics by Glenn Slater. While Ariel’s voice is haunting to the lovesick Eric, it may not be quite as memorable as that of actress Fran Drescher whose first autobiography Enter Whining (if that doesn’t tell you everything) was released on this day in 1995.
“Darkest Hour” – The Light Princess
Music and Lyrics: Tori Amos & Samuel Adamson
History experienced one of its darkest hours when the stock market crash which led to the Great Depression reached its climax on this day in 1929. While there was a long struggle ahead for all involved, there was eventually light again. In this musical version of the Scottish fairy tale by George MacDonald, Princess Althea experiences her darkest hour in this woeful number where she considers suicide as a solution to her problems, but she too eventually finds light again.
“Me” – Beauty and the Beast
Music: Alan Menken Lyrics: Tim Rice
Once a year, there should be a Me Day when everyone celebrates themselves. Take today to focus on you and treat yourself to something nice, like the music from this show based on the fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. Gaston sings his praises while proposing to our heroine in this uproarious number which was added to the lush score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman when the Disney animated film was adapted for the stage.
“Impossible/It’s Possible” – Cinderella
Music: Richard Rodgers Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II
Cinderella’s fairy godmother uses magic to demonstrate that impossible feats are sometimes possible in this ravishing sequence. The Guinness Book of World Records keeps track of these feats, the first edition of which was bound on this day in 1955. All right, a pumpkin cannot turn into a carriage, but this version of the well-known fairy tale is an impossibly appealing musical fantasy.
“Disneyland” – Smile Music: Marvin Hamlisch Lyrics: Howard Ashman
“Happily Ever After” – Once Upon a Mattress Music: Mary Rodgers Lyrics: Marshall Barer
Disneyland opened on this day in 1955, putting a smile on everyone’s face and making them believe in happy endings. In “Disneyland” from a musical about beauty pageants entitled Smile, a contestant passionately sings of how her happy ending involves getting to Disneyland. But everyone wants a happy ending, even non-Disney* princesses like Winifred from Once Upon a Mattress, a musical fairy tale based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea. In fact, living happily ever after is all she wants, and it’s almost impossible not to root for the scrappy princess Fred as she belts out her desire in the sensational “Happily Ever After.”
*Incidentally, Disney produced a film version of Once Upon a Mattress for television in 2005.