‘The Prince and the Troubadour’ at 1st Stage by Julia L. Exline


1st Stage Theatre and Virginia Children’s Theater Company present The Prince and the Troubadour, a fairly silly fairy-tale spoof by Rex Daugherty (who also directs the production) and Doug Wilder.

Rex Daugherty and Doug Wilder. Photo by Virginia Children's Theater Company.

Parents are able to keep their children busy before the show by looking through a special program specifically made for them (there is an adult-version as well) that is both informative and interactive. The set consists of merely of a couple of platforms and blank backdrops. Lighting Designer Andrew Jorgensen projects shadow-like images onto the backdrops throughout the show, such as tree branches and clouds, but I feel they could have done a lot more with the barren setting.

The creative team fairs better with their costumes, using bold prints and colors to draw the eye. The Princess wears a bright pink dress and a matching shawl that doesn’t entirely cover a mountain of frizzy, uncontrollable hair (which she laments later on with a song), and the Prince, a royal shirt and sash. The Witch dons the expected pointed hat and striped stockings, and the Troubadour, a vest and snappy hat, the likes of which you would expect to find at a jazz club.

A vain-headed Prince (Doug Wilder) strolls through the woods with his Troubadour (Bradley F. Smith). The Troubadour reveals his longing to get married, and the Prince selfishly reminds him that he cannot get married before the Prince has a love of his own. And so, they head off on a quest to find a Princess (Julia Fanning) who, through magical means, falls in love with the Troubadour instead of the Prince! Their troubles increase when the Troubadour gets kidnapped by a Witch (Marta Kotzian), who may or may not want to serve him in a stew. The Prince and Princess set out to rescue him – and have a set of adventures on the way! Will the Princess see through her magical haze and see what’s really in front of her? Will they be able to save the Troubadour from being pickled and stewed?

While the acting is nicely done all around, Bradley F. Smith carries the weight of the show as the Troubadour, whose character stands out amongst its seemingly one-dimensional peers. Singing and playing instruments throughout the show, he also has some of the wittiest lines and is easily the most complex of the bunch. For the most part, the Prince and Princess are mainly concerned with their looks: him, maintaining his handsome features, and her, trying to tame her wild hair. The connection between them is a cute one, however, when the Prince (who loves to style hair) sees her for the first time and exclaims, “Holy hairdo! A challenge!” The best laughs come when the actors take themselves out of the play by referencing something like a nearby exit sign, the audience, or the script.

While I wish the effects were a bit more substantial, and the characters more complex, The Prince and the Troubadour is still a fun time filled with laughs and songs. Live theater is always a nice bet when entertaining a child, or, as the Prince says, “3-D without the pesky glasses!”

*Note: 1st Stage Theatre welcomes you to join them for TRAV’LIN, a free musical reading, with performances on Saturday July 21 at 8 p.m., and Sunday July 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Running Time: 50 minutes without an intermission.

The Prince and the Troubadour plays through July 29, 2012 at 1st Stage – 1524 Spring Hill Road, in McLean, VA. For tickets, please call (703) 854-1856, or order them online.

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