by Kayla Ross.
Hide all of your children because Rumpelstiltskin is coming to Lehman.
From May 9 to May 11, the popular childhood tale will be gracing the Lehman Stages in form of a musical featuring Lehman students and faculty as cast members.
Dr. Penny Prince will be directing the musical rendition of this tale for the second time at Lehman. She believes her first production did not capture the story’s true essence. The musical will feature the same songs, new cast, but a brand new script.
Prince has composed numerous musical theater pieces. She is a recipient of ten consecutive ASCAP merit awards for children and educational music.
The Rumpelstiltskin tale originated in Germany and features a greedy king who is looking for a way to profit from his poor villagers. A miller hears of the king’s conquest and to feel important, he lies about his daughter’s ability to turn straw into gold.
Enchanted by the fib, the king demands that the girl spend three nights turning all his excess straw to gold. Unable to make this happen the miller’s daughter becomes hopeless; until a gnome-like creature appears who seems to be the answer to her problems.
The creature helps her spin straw into gold in exchange for jewelry, but once the girl runs out of items to give, the gnome asks the girl for a rare collateral – her first born child. The king then marries the miller’s daughter and when her first child is born the gnome appears ready for what they bargained.
“Stories themselves have meaning, but it is important to know the psychological meaning behind the story,” Prince said.
Through a creative process of improvisation Prince likes to use, the cast will write the Rumpelstiltskin script in its entirety. Prince said that she chose this method to help unravel a new side of the story.
“The actors will explore these motives by questioning the actions of their characters and trying to come to a conclusion [about] why they behaved as they did,” she said.
Prince believes that maintaining a creative mindset will empower her actors, granting them freedom and a special connectivity to their roles.
To ensure that this happens, the cast members will meet once a week. Improvisation games will be used for warm ups and after that, the actors will get straight to work.
In the first five weeks, the script is written as small groups work together to create dialogue that they believe will best embody their character. The group then comes together to focus on the musical component of this production. The music will be an outline to the story, the dialogue a partner. All of the musical pieces have been composed by Prince herself.
When asked why Prince chose to make the Rumplestiltkin tale into a musical, she smiled. “Music is my thing” she said. “Songs are an expression of the being of the character. It is not a play with music, it is a musical. I also noticed Lehman’s lack of involvement in musical theater and wanted to change that.”
Prince hopes that “Rumpelstiltskin” delivers a positive message to her audience and that they are reminded “to always look within a person to understand their actions.” She thinks that doing so is a direct combat against bullying and ultimately may encourage college students and others to do the same.
Rumplestiltskin will be performed on Thursday May 9 at 7 p.m., Friday May 10 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Saturday May 11 at 2 p.m., and it will be featured on select airings for Bronxnet in June.