Girl power!

The Last of the Dragons

By Kristin Walter
Adapted from the story by Edith Nesbit
Directed by Laura Stevens
Manhattan Children’s Theatre
52 White Street (first floor;; 212/352-3101)
Non-union production (closes Apr. 2)
Review by Byrne Harrison

For as long as there have been princesses, there have been dragons to kidnap them, princes to rescue them, and happily-ever-afters to be lived. But what would happen if the princess knew about swords and the prince was a bookworm? And what if the dragon refused to show up? Could there still be a happy ending if tradition wasn’t followed?

That’s the central premise of Kristin Walter’s The Last of the Dragons (from the story by Edith Nesbit). Lisanne Marie played a different sort of Princess. She works out, she plays with swords, and most of all, she doesn’t want to be tied to a rock, kidnapped by a dragon, and saved by a prince. Her father, the King (Chris Alonzo), doesn’t understand his daughter, but he does understand tradition. He finds a Prince (David Demato) and on the morning of his daughter’s 16th birthday, he ties her to a rock and waits for the dragon to steal her. Little does he know that the Princess and Prince have a plan to fight the dragon together. When it doesn’t arrive, they hunt it down and are surprised to find out that this Dragon (Alex Rasovar) is nothing like what they expected.

This production was good from start to finish. Walter’s script features cute, funny dialog, yet allows the actors the freedom to add some clever improv into the mix. This is a smart choice as it allows this excellent cast an opportunity to show off their comic talents. Laura Stevens’s direction kept the play moving quickly and allowed the humor to shine through. Alonzo was particularly amusing as the King. Big and bombastic, with a tendency to try to explain his points using sock puppets, his scenes were some of the funniest in the show. Lisanne Marie was a pretty and empowered Princess that every young girl would want to be. David Demato’s bumbling, nervous Prince may not be the traditional hero, but he was smart, sensitive, and when push came to shove, he could be brave. Alex Rasovar’s Dragon was a gentle giant; someone more likely to invite you to tea than try to eat you. Even more comic moments were provided by Chelsea Palano as the Princess’s Nurse and B.J. Thorne as the Prince’s Valet. The couple, smitten with each other at first sight, spent much of the play chasing after each other, literally and figuratively. Palano and Thorne both showed a gift for slapstick and broad humor and used it to great effect. A slapstick chase involving Palano, Thorne, Marie, and Demato was so well done that many of the children in the audience were screaming with laughter and jumping up and down in their seats.

Aaron Mastin’s bright, colorful scenery set the storybook mood from the time the audience entered the theatre. Cully Long’s costumes showed influences from various styles and periods and featured a dragon motif. His Dragon costume was marvelous and made Rasovar look as though he’d just stepped from the pages of Alice in Wonderland.

The Last of the Dragons is a wonderful production of an amusing and entertaining play. It is sure to delight children and parents alike.

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 2
Costumes: 2
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2006 Byrne Harrison