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The best of Once Upon a Festival

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Even Donna Scott herself wouldn't say whether the Once Upon a Festival, which concluded its 9-day run last Saturday, was a one-time event as its name implied. From what I saw of it, namely The Fairytale Chronicles and The Crossroads Teen Theater Project, the maiden effort of Donna Scott Productions showed sufficient promise for an encore.

Kevin Campbell, Marilyn Carter, and Judy Simpson Cook were the old hands who helped the 11 writer/performers, aged 14-18, sound so confident and cogent at their Crossroads. Monologues by Brandon Cook about losing a friend to a teen gang and by Taylor Griner on trying to fit in as a homeless person at high school were the ones that left essay format furthest behind and confounded my expectations. They weren't based on personal experience but bore the imprint of empathy. Most creative, veering from petulant to defiant, was Daniel Hoilett's catalogue of reasons for not coming out of his mother's womb. Delivered from a fetal position, of course.

Scott's concept of satirizing and deconstructing fairytales is probably the oldest literary impulse around -- except for the tales themselves. Best of the Chronicles was Iesha Hoffman's "Wanted: Frogs," which gave the brilliant Mark Scarboro the opportunity to play the Frog Prince as hard-to-get and wary of commitment -- amid hilarious spasms of frogginess. Worst were the six episodes of Jennifer Hubbard's "Prince Charming Waits for Sleeping Beauty," which gave Tom Scott very little positive to work with aside from six listings in the program.

Best of the rest were Shannon Reichley's "Wednesday Night Support Group," Dr. Prince attempting to cure the midlife neuroses of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Snow White; and Stan Peal's mini-musical, "Snow Whire and the 7 Deadly Sins." Both could use some sharpening. Hopefully, the newborn festival served as a workshop for the playwrights.

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