Homestead High School finishes there 2021-2022 season with Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman’s The Secret in the Wings. Ms. Zimmerman, the noted playwright of Metamorphoses and The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, has written a dreamlike play based on several European fairy tales in a uniquely theatrical staging. Homestead’s production runs this weekend, April 29 and 30th at 7pm and May 1st at 1pm.
The Secret of Wings intertwines elements from Beauty and the Beast with four lesser-known stories into a visionary exploration of the darker side of human desires. This fairy tale is not written children but an invitation to adults to view a storybook experience. The four stories are the little-known European fairy tales “Three Blind Queens,” “Allerleirah,” “The Princess Who Wouldn’t Laugh” and “Silent for Seven Years.”
The Secret of Wings‘ first scene is something like the classic Beauty and the Beast. Two parents (Amelia Eichmeier and Owen Weiss) tell their young daughter Leah (Leah McGowan) that she is going to be babysat by the neighbor upstairs, a Mr. Fitzpatick (Ben Usatinsky). The young girl tells her parents that he is a monster with a long tail, but the parents think it is just a young child’s fantasy – they laugh and leave her alone. Sure enough, spooky old Mr. Fitzpatick looks like a fugitive from a slasher movie and comes down the steps sporting a long dinosaur tail. He says “Leah, will you marry me?” Leah replies “No, Mr. Fitzpatick, I won’t.” The man opens a large book and a fairy tale begins. These same words are repeated several times during the performance and each time Mr. Fitzpatick is rejected. However, since we know the end of Beauty and the Beast, we know it will come out all right.
Each tale ends with a climactic point of disaster, all of which are resolved in the last scenes of the fantasy play. However, sometimes the stories become confused and they get away from the play’s framework. Much is told directly to the audience and through stilted dialogue among the characters, while sometimes things are danced and sung. The cast put the show together which guidance from Ms. Figg-Franzoi, after they created scenes and dances. This is also the first mainstage play to have aerial apparatus in it since fall 2020. A whole new group of actors are learning aerial dance and how hard that can be.
Some of the stories are charming, such as the tale of “The Princess Who Wouldn’t Laugh,” which is hilarious. The king wants his daughter to marry a prince, but she really does not want to be attached. The king asks three princes from other kingdoms to come and make the princess laugh. He who succeeds will marry the beautiful princess. However, the princess puts in a condition: for those who do not succeed – “off with their heads.” The first two princes (Ari Graupe and Alyssa Santoleri) look like they are auditioning for a Las Vegas lounge act, one like a hammy comedian and the other a crooner. Both are excellent. The third prince (Jake Varney) is absolutely hilarious imitating a chicken; he brings down the house. The princess played by Alexandra Berryman also kills it at the end of the play.
The set looks like a grimy house with a long set of stairs in the back of the stage that opens up to a door in the rafters, a trap door that goes to the underworld where people come and go and a few vintage ’40s floor lamps that sometimes provide the only light on the stage. It is a strange and spooky set.
Come see the show for yourself this weekend:
Buy tickets Here: