August 15, 2013

Funky fairies with attitude take over Depot Theatre

By ROBIN CAUDELL Press-Republican

---- — WESTPORT — Titania, Faireetheeya and Magikwanda are fairies like none other.

They twirled out of the imagination of playwright Kirsten Childs, who penned “Funked Up Fairy Tales,” which runs through Sunday, Aug. 25, at the Depot Theatre in Westport.

The teen fairies (portrayed by Famecia Ward, Cali Moore and Iris Elton) are bent on getting their Happy Ending Crowns, by any means necessary, from Fairyland Academy. 

To get Ward, Moore and Elton to embrace Childs’s fiery fairies, Director Jerry Dixon told them to bring their best Rick-James impressions.

“’Just YouTube it,’” Dixon said to them. “They knew him (Rick James) from Dave Chappelle doing it.”

The musical score is funkified in the manner of James, George Clinton and Chaka Khan. The tale is a skewered derivative of familiar German and old Italian fairy tales.

“Kirsten’s using a few that are not so familiar,” Dixon said. “Kirsten is doing the same thing the Grimm brothers did mixing classic fairy tales and (putting) them in an urban milieu. The kings and queens and their courts, they had secret fairy tales told to them. She wants the fairy tales accessible to people in New York and Tennessee. It’s a very American bent in these fairy tales.”

For Titania, Faireetheeya and Magikwanda, it’s about the crown.

“They have to guide the character in their story to a happy ending,” Dixon said.

Childs’s visual for Dixon was that the fairies were Bratz-esque.

“I looked them up. It’s like My Little Pony meets Valley Girl meets that kind of Fly Girls from ‘Living Color.’ Kirsten said they’re head-wagging, teeth-sucking fairies that wear micro-mini skirts. It’s very clever, fun and very accessible,” Dixon said.

Dixon had the latitude to refine characters to each cast member.

“One of the characters has to play two different sisters. They are both very unlikable characters,” Dixon said.

Dixon had a bicoastal vision of the sisters: Valley Girl and Jersey Girl.

“The one sister is nice and sweet. She’s the Cinderella type who has to live with these bratty girls. The music is so fun, infectious and toe-tapping.”

Dixon and Childs go way back to her 2000 Playwrights Horizon production, “The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds her Chameleon Skin.”

“It was basically autobiographical,” Dixon said of Childs’s work about a Valley Girl who hits New York City.

“People have these expectations of her that she’s a sassy black girl. It’s about her travails getting into the business.”

Childs is alum of the Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at New York University, where she teaches now.

“When ‘Funked Up Fairy Tales’ came along, I was busy doing something else,” Dixon said. “Then, it reared at the National Alliance for Music Theater.”

Limited to 45 minutes, Dixon directed the first part of the three-section play.

“The show has never been produced before. I didn’t know the Depot was in the audience,” Dixon said.

Childs asked Dixon to consider directing the full production in this tiny theater in the Adirondacks.

“I think these are the best circumstances to produce a musical out of the blaring light of New York City critics,” Dixon said. “You’re in Westport. You got the lake and the theater, and that is all you’re doing is working on the show. The focus was unbelievable. It was the perfect place.”

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IF YOU GO WHAT: "Funked Up Fairy Tales" written by Kirsten Childs and directed by Jerry Dixon. WHEN: 8 p.m. today, Aug. 17, 19, 23 and 24; 5 p.m. Aug. 18, 22 and 25; and 3 p.m. Aug. 17 and 24. ADMISSION: $29. CONTACT: Reach the Box Office at 962-4449, or visit