‘Sleeping Beauty’ at The Kennedy Center by Mike Spain

David Gonzalez presents a version of Sleeping Beauty the audience has not seen or heard before. Gonzalez follows in the footsteps of others – like Disney and The Grimm Brothers – who have added their own unique spin on the classic tale, and has created a new and entertaining rhyming version.

David Gonzalez performing the world premiere of 'Sleeping Beauty' with Daniel Kelly (piano) at the Walt Whitman Theatre, Brooklyn Performing Arts Center in March 2010. Photo by Myles Aronowitz.

The Family Theater at the Kennedy Center is absent of a costume-wearing cast and elaborate staging. Instead, Gonzalez uses his award-winning storytelling experience and skills, a fresh entertaining, educating, and rhyming script, and the piano playing of Daniel Kelly to tell the story.

The Kennedy Center embraces the educational part by handing out a cue sheet that parents or educators can use with the younger audience members. The sheet provides more background information on the performance, activity suggestions, and a word list of words which may be new to some audience members. It is quite possible that some of the young audience members will come home having learned some new phrases and words from Gonzalez’s storytelling and rhymes. Gonzalez encouraged the audience to participate as well, and the excited audience joined in and had a great time.

Daniel Kelly provides a lovely musical background, and they both support each other beautifully during the performance. In fact during a sleep scene – Daniel literally supports Gonzalez whileKelly plays the piano.

Karen Jenson’s video design and Chris Amend’s paintings also add great touches to the performance as they are displayed on the video screen. Some are abstract, some beautiful, and many flow with the story. They all help the audience focus on the tale being told on the stage.

Daniel Gonzalez performing 'Sleeping Beauty.'

David Gonzalez deserves credit for his creative re-writing of Sleeping Beauty. Besides the audience participation, I appreciated the way Gonzalez’s adaptation repeated important parts of the tale. This worked splendidly with the younger family-filled audience and with my young daughter who attended the performance with me. But it’s the combination of Daniel’s charismatic personality and presence, his facial expressions and body language that makes the show a hit. He held the attention of the young audience and they were spellbound by his storytelling.

My five year-old daughter was asked later in the day what her favorite part of Sleeping Beauty was – and she was able to tell with detail the part where the Prince and Princess got married at the end. That’s great storytelling!

Running Time: 50 Minutes, with no intermission.

Sleeping Beauty has two more performances on Sunday. April 15, 2012 at 1:30 PM and 4 PM, at the Family Theater at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts – 2700 F Street NW, in Washington DC. For tickets, purchase them online, or call (202) 467-4600.


Watch a preview video of Sleeping Beauty with David Gonzalez.

David Gonzalez’s website.


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