Regional Reviews: Seattle
Princess on Prozac at Crepe de Paris
One of Seattle's most underused resources when it come to musical theatre is the splendid actress/singer Frances Leah King. Anyone who has seen Frances' work in the concert versions of Chess or Anyone Can Whistle in recent seasons knows that she should be lighting up the stages of major musical theatre houses whenever possible. But the resourceful performer isn't waiting for that next juicy role to land in her lap. Instead she has conceived (with directing assistance by Richard Gray) a charming, self-referential solo show entitled Princess on Prozac.
In Princess's first half , we follow King's emotional journey from youthful fairy tale inspired yearnings (deftly arranged into a mega-Disney medley of princess songs), struggling with weight and emotional issues, finding her own prince (husband Lawrence) and trying to live ever after as happily as one can in a world where you get married on Sept. 10, 2001, and the honeymoon gets postponed by the events of Sept. 11.
The show's second half has more of a 'favorite songs of mine' conceit, and while one wishes that perhaps the biographical aspect of the show had been threaded more fluidly throughout the evening, what matters most is the impeccable choice of material, and the warmth and vocal richness of King's interpretations.
Accompanied by the piano (and occasional vocal) artistry of Mark Rabe, King sends up but never over camps the aforementioned Princess set which takes in everything from vintage Disney ("I'm Wishing," "Some Day My Prince Will Come" and "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes") to some from the Ashman/Menken era ("Part of Your World," "Belle"). She also adroitly takes on Sondheim's more jaded view of fairy tales with a heartfelt "On the Steps of the Palace," and does a wonderful, slowed down version of Ashman and Schwartz's "Just Across the River Bend." She mocks her own weight issues with the wryly humorous "Dieter's Prayer" by Amanda McBroom, and shows her varied musical tastes (and vocal versatility) on the likes of a medley of "Calling You/Get Here," and Carly Simon's rousing "Let the River Run."
King is the model of tenderness when personalizing Jimmy Roberts and Joe DiPetre's "I Will Be Loved Tonight" into a musical love letter to her husband, then becomes boldly bawdy on Harold Arlen and Truman Capote's "One Man Ain't Quite Enough." She revisits her Chess role tantalizingly with "Someone Else's Story," gives her regard to the Gershwins with a rhapsodic "How Long Has This Been Going On?," and romps through a clever closing pairing of Kander & Ebb's "When You're Good to Mama" and Flaherty and Ahrens' "Mama Will Provide." Her encore shall remain a surprise, but it's a wonderfully upbeat and nostalgic performance of a song that anyone who grew up watching '60s kids TV can sing along to.
Beyond entertaining the heck out of the Crepe de Paris audiences, one hopes that the endearing King can get those producers who should be hiring her into her show. One suspects they might then just be the ones saying "How Long Has This Been Going On?"
Princess on Prozac through November 23 at Crepe de Paris Cabaret Restaurant and Bar, 1333 5th Ave, 2nd level of Rainer Square, Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:00 PM. Show only tickets $18, dinner and show $45. For reservations call (206) 623-4111.- David-Edward Hughes