Theatre enthusiasts will thoroughly enjoy ‘Rapunzel Alone’ now playing at the 24th Street Theatre.
Rapunzel Alone is the story of Lettie, a young mixed-race girl from London sent to the countryside for her own safety during the daily bombings of World War II. On an isolated country farm, Lettie faces her own battles with a strict new guardian and a very “fowl” goose.
Commissioned by 24th Street and written by Olivier Award-winning playwright Mike Kenny (Walking the Tightrope), in 2019, pre-pandemic, to adapt the classic fairy tale in response to increasing isolation among teens coming of age in the world of social media. Then everything changed.
Over the course of the past two years of pandemic, lockdown, social uprising, election, insurrection, climate calamities and war, the play continued to evolve as the world changed around us.
“The play is about our need for connection,” says 24th Street Theatre artistic director Debbie Devine, who co-directs with Jesús Castaños–Chima. “How the consoling power of connection heals the agony of isolation.”
Tara Alise Cox, William Leon and Jacquelin Lorraine Schofield star, with playwright Kenny providing narration and puppeteer Matt Curtin bringing ornery Gertrude the Goose to life. The original score is composed by pianist Bradley Brough.
“I’m a fan of historical fiction, but rarely see anyone who looks like me in that genre,” says Cox, a mixed-race actor who stars as Lettie.
While the story is historical fiction, it weaves in elements of the classic Rapunzel story, from her guardian Ms. Pearce (Schofield) being called a witch to the cutting of Lettie’s hair.
Audiences learn Lettie’s guardian is from Jamaica, and is called a witch by the village residents because of her dark skin.
Lettie, who grows increasingly wary of being cooped up on the farm, attempts to unsuccessfully runaway back to her parents’ home in London only to be stopped by her new friend Conrad (Leon) who is at the train station waiting for the mail.
As the train approaches, Ms. Pearce appears and Lettie realizes she is caught.
The three have a “coming to Jesus” moment as Conrad receives bad news, and Lettie realizes the safest place for her to be is on the farm with Ms. Pearce.
From there, the three become the best of friends, with Conrad no longer referring to Ms. Pearce as a witch.
The story is beautifully told and runs for approximately 90 minutes.
Performances of Rapunzel Alone continue at 24th Street Theatre through May 1, on Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. (no matinee on Saturday, April 9; dark on April 17). Tickets are $24 for adults; $15 for students, seniors and teachers; $10 audiences under 18; and $2.40 for residents of the theater’s surrounding North University Park neighborhood. 24th Street Theatre is located at 1117 West 24th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007 (at the intersection of 24th and Hoover). To purchase tickets and for more information, call (213) 745-6516 or go to www.24thstreet.org.