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I ventured with my friend Matt out to Princeton, New Jersey on Sunday to see Sleeping Beauty Wakes at the McCarter Theatre. It was my first time to both Princeton and the McCarter and I was excited for both. An easy 90 minute train ride to Princeton Junction and a quick five minute trip on the Dinky to the town of Princeton and we were there.
We stopped first at Small World Coffee, which we’d been informed was the best in town, and it was pretty good! There were tons of students studying and typing away on laptops and they seem to have created a pretty cool little spot to sneak away to when you need to just unwind or type a paper. I almost tried the vegan moonpie, which looked amazing, but I wasn’t very hungry so I decided against it.
Next time, I guess! We cut through the gorgeous Princeton campus on our way back to the McCarter. It’s one gorgeous building after another. (For a minute I’d regretted my decision to never aim high enough in high school to go to an Ivy League school, but when snapped back to reality, I got over it really quickly.)
I’d heard about Sleeping Beauty Wakes when Aspen Vincent departed American Idiot to take on the title role, and later I learned that Bryce Ryness (Hair, See Rock City) and Donna Vivino (original Young Cosette in Les Miserables on Broadway) were also in the cast. I’d been informed that SBW was the staging of a concept album by the group Groovelily, who occasionally tour and have played several times at Ars Nova, although I’d never heard any of their material before.
SBW takes place is a sleep study facility that’s turned upside-down when a father, Mr. King (Bob Stillman), arrives with his daughter, Rose (Aspen Vincent), in his arms who refuses to wake up. Mike (Bryce Ryness), an orderly in the facility, suffers from a few disorders of his own, and ends up meeting Rose in his dreams. Kecia Lewis-Evans (The Drowsy Chaperone) is the doctor studying the other patients in the facility (Vivino, Steve Judkins, Adinah Alexander, and Jimmy Ray Bennett) and occasionally provides comic relief. Mike and Rose fall in love, eventually, this is a fairy tale after all and most live happily ever after.
Vincent has a number of good songs including Good For Me and Awake (which also includes Ryness), but each song is equally well written and easy on the ear. The cast was exceptionally talented. In two acts and just over two hours long, SBW never drags or feels long.
Afterward we headed back down the campus to Teresa’s, a small Italian restaurant that a colleague of mine had recommended earlier in the week. We split the mozzarella and prosciutto appetizer, had a few drinks, and entrees. All were delicious and really reasonably priced. We strolled through the town and campus once more before catch the train back in Penn Station where we arrived back at about 7:30.
Whenever I’m traveling out of town to see a new musical, I’m never quite sure what I’m going to get. I am thrilled to be able to say that Sleeping Beauty Wakes was definitely worth the 90-minute trip down to Princeton.
Sleeping Beauty Wakes is playing at the McCarter Theatre through June 5th. For more information visit their website.