In Imagination Station's fractured fairy tale, "Rapunzel," if it was up to the Fairy (Class 1, Type Q, Wingless), the couple next door would be more than welcome to the tasty greens in her enchanted garden. But when neighbor Ralph doesn't ask and plunders the Fairy's plants to satisfy his pregnant wife's craving, he violates "the Higher Law" and must pay the penalty.
According to the Higher Lawyer (a dancing laser light and a voice-over), the couple must leave town and their soon-to-be-born daughter is doomed to be incarcerated in the Fairy's tower for the rest of her life.
And, oh, yes: Her hair will grow really, really, really long.
Familiar territory? Not quite. In addition to the Higher Lawyer, the show features modern-day dress (Ralph is a busy executive in a business suit), a setting called Tabloid Valley and a Fairy (Sarah Bell) who is a loving foster mom who dedicates herself to finding a legal loophole that will set Rapunzel (Wendy Haines) free.
Told through a series of vignettes, the tale includes humorous interludes featuring Tabloid Valley residents indulging in their favorite pastime: gossip. They make outlandish assumptions about Rapunzel's parents and the Fairy--she didn't really give Ralph (Matthew James) a third arm and six eyes--and they confer celebrity status on Rapunzel: Soon, everyone, male and female, is sporting Rapunzel hair (blond braids).
Rapunzel, who isn't crazy about having her braids used as climbing ropes ("Ow, ow."), is much relieved when the Fairy finds the loophole: a prince who will love Rapunzel for who she really is (a football-loving, outdoorsy type).
Prince Timid (Daniel Kramer) fits the bill. If only he weren't so shy. And just who are his mysterious foster parents, anyway?
Co-writers Jake Eberle and Jennifer Brandt (who directed) have forged this modest, jam-packed production with the company's trademark comic spark and smart dialogue, and the actors are pros.
But there are too many blackouts separating the vignettes, and when the show begins, it takes too long for the scenes to feel connected. Using actor Mackey as a mechanical clock between scenes to illustrate time passing is decidedly overdone too. ("Hurry up," demanded one impatient young audience member during the fourth or fifth such break in the action.)
The show scores with clever keyboard musical accompaniment, however: an off-key "Girl From Ipanema," a spot of jazz, and a deliberately discordant attempt at a piece of Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag." Craig Manrique, who did the sound, also did a quality job with the ambitious lighting--multiple colors and a glowing full moon.
* "Rapunzel," Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Ends April 2. $6 to $8. (310) 854-4196.
Star Power: Oscar winner and Hollywood great Kirk Douglas has taken on another role in recent years: storyteller and children's book author. He'll be autographing his books for young people at Pages Books for Children and Young Adults in Tarzana on Saturday. His most recent book is "Young Heroes of the Bible"; his first, "The Broken Mirror," is about a Jewish boy's crisis of faith when he loses his family in the Holocaust. Both are written for ages 8 and up.
* Pages Books for Children and Young Adults, 18399 Ventura Blvd. #15, Tarzana, Saturday, 2 to 3 p.m. (818) 342-6657.