Just a Dream

Midlothian Theater Presents: A Secret In the Wings

Photo by: Butch Eudaily

On Thursday, November 19th, Midlothian High School Theatre debuted its fall play, A Secret in the Wings. Midlo’s finest came together to produce an interesting, yet modern, twist on Charles Perrault’s Beauty and the Beast, along with a few other forgotten fairytales. The dark nature of some of the tales drew in the audience and left them wondering what might happen next.

The show began as Heidi’s parents, played by Peyton Strange and Alex Haley, were heading out for the night and left their daughter with a babysitter, Mr. Fitzpatrick, played by John Mora. To their surprise, Mr. Fitzpatrick showed up with a giant book of fairy tales and a very, very long tail, and as the night progressed, he read to these tales to the girl, framing Midlo’s Theatre production.

The first fairytale of the night, a twist on the famous story of Snow White, was The Three Blind Queens. Sophia Trout, Hannah Lee, and Dreya Fernandes played three queens, whose husbands went off to war, leaving them in the kingdom with an evil nursemaid, portrayed by Mikaela Gray. The nursemaid banishes them to the mountainside to be killed by the ambassador, Daisy Bedser. Instead of being murdered, the queens remove their own eyes to send back as proof of their deaths. While there, each of the three queens gives birth to a  son, but desperation and hunger lead two of them to consume their own children, leaving the audience surprised and confused due to such a dark twist in the plot. One of the queens refuses to give up her child, and when he comes of age, he leaves the queens in search of food. He finds an orange on the ground, which he selflessly presents to the starving ogre, which leads to a rippling effect that reverses all the evil in the kingdom.

The fairytale of The Princess Who Wouldn’t Laugh followed. Emily Peachee winningly played this utterly unamused princess, whose optimistic father, played by YJ Xu, devises a competition to find a suitor to make her laugh. The winner will have her hand in marriage only if he can make her smile or laugh. The princess agrees; however, if the suitor fails, he will have his head cut off. Truit Elliott, who played one of the suitors, tries to make the princess laugh by telling a series of corny jokes. Of course, the suitors following him all try and fail, which leads to a land full of men without heads. Inevitably, the princess finally ends up laughing, even more than expected, when she overhears the ogre proposing to Heidi once again. This scene alone left the audience in more laughter than any other, giving them a sense of comedic relief.

         Snake Leaves, an audience favorite, featured Andrea Taylor, John El-Jor, Katie Murphy, Daniel Doh, as well as an ensemble of singers. In the story, a boy brings back his true love from the dead with three magical leaves, and then she decides that she does not love him anymore, so she plots to kill him. After a series of twists and turns, the Snake Leaves princess tries to marry someone else and drowns. The choreography with vibrant fans proved an unusually appealing touch that enhanced the beauty of the piece and enriched the vocal performances.

In the second act, Mr. Fitzpatrick continues to read more fairytales to Heidi, and the story of The Man With Seven Sons unfolds.  In this tale, the father, John Mora, has loud and rowdy children that anger him so much that he utters a curse that turns his seven sons into swans.  The only way for their sister, Payton Vernier, to break the spell cast upon them, is to remain mute seven straight years and make them sweaters made of aster flowers. Throughout these seven silent years, the sister falls in love with the King, Sean Dudley, and weds him. The king has an evil stepmother, Megan O’Brien, who dislikes the new queen, so she steals the queen’s children and smears blood on the queen’s face to make it look as though she killed them. Her husband, in shock and despair, sentences his wife to death because she is unable to defend herself. As she is about to be executed, her seven years of silence ends, bringing her seven brothers back to their human form. She eventually proclaims her innocence to her husband, who then executes his stepmother instead. Megan O’Brien brilliantly played the role of the evil stepmother, giving Payton Vernier the ability to grow and adapt in her role as the hated new daughter-in-law.

The Story of Alleleira, played by Hannah Lee, begins with the death of Alleleira’s mother, the most beautiful queen the kingdom has ever seen. Her father, the King, played by Alex Haley, vows to only marry again if the woman is as beautiful as his dead bride. He searches the kingdom far and wide for a woman to wed; however, the only person he finds who compares is his daughter, Alleleira. She will only marry him if he gives her a gown as blue as the sky, a gown as silver as the moon, and a gown as golden as the sun. When he returns with all three gowns, she then requests a fur coat made out of all the animals in the kingdom, a seemingly impossible task. Her father foils her plan to disrupt the wedding by returning with the coat, and he sets the wedding for the very next day. That evening, she takes her gowns and her fur coat and leaves the kingdom. In her journey, another king, played by Derik Jacobsen, tells her she can live in his kingdom as a cook. He throws three balls. To each of these balls, Alleleira wears the gowns her father gifted  her. The king falls more and more in love with Alleleira every time he sees her at the dances. Each time he tries to propose, but she escapes too quickly. He then sets out a search to find his true love, and after failing several times, he finally comes across his future wife, and in the end, the audience is treated to a story with a happy ending.

At the end of the play, all of these small fairytales conclude in their own ways. After a night full of laughter, happy endings, and a little gore, Mr. Fitzpatrick wakes up and realizes the whole thing was only a dream. The performances, directing, and the set were nothing less than spectacular. The Midlothian Theater Department never fails to put on an interesting and insightful production.