Evanston resident stars in Marriott Theatre’s upcoming musical ‘Sleeping Beauty’


Source: Ellie Kim

Elizabeth Telford.

Rachel Kupfer, Reporter


In the Marriott Theatre’s upcoming production of “Sleeping Beauty,” the beloved Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale has a vivid twist. Set in the kingdom of Colorland, the production is a child-friendly show that aims to teach young audiences about self-identity, acceptance and empathy.

The musical, directed by Scott Weinstein (Communication ’10), features Evanston resident Elizabeth Telford in the title role and will run from Nov. 10 until Dec. 30.

The show’s characters have different names and personalities than the original tale, Weinstein said. In the Marriott production, Princess Amber, an analog of Disney’s Aurora, is cursed by the evil fairy Magenta, who was banned from the kingdom for being purple. The story then follows Prince Hunter, a character portrayed by Chicago-based actor Garrett Lutz, in his quest to save her.

Unlike many fairy tales, the Marriott’s take on the classic story focuses on female empowerment, Telford said. She noted that Amber is not the typical reincarnation of a classic princess.

“She wants to do what princesses are able to do, which I think is cool for little girls to see that you can be whatever you want to be,” she said. “They can decide for themselves who they want to be and what they want to do with their life.”

Amber is complemented by Prince Hunter, whose personality also differs from that of the tale’s original character. Cassie Slater, who plays the fairy Periwinkle, said Hunter is a “total scaredy-chicken” and has a sneezing fit when faced with frightening tasks to get out of doing them throughout the show.

Weinstein said Telford and Lutz perform well together as the royal couple, and they’re “fun to watch” thanks to their chemistry and comedic timing. Weinstein added that kids respond well to Telford’s high energy and versatile voice.

“She brings the sense of someone who is really sure of herself and has a great sense of adventure,” he said. “She brings a great emotional depth to the role.”

Telford also said Magenta isn’t meant to be an incarnation of evil, but rather a character through which kids learn empathy. She believes empathy is one of the most important values children can learn from live theater.

“Because (Magenta) was not accepted, she was hurt and she was angry,” Telford said. “In the end, when they accept (her) back into the kingdom, she is loved and accepted. All it takes is love and acceptance and you solve a lot of problems.”

This idea is central to Telford’s previous work. This past summer, she taught with Slater at Stomp and Shout Chicago, using instruments and songs to explore emotions and empathy, Slater said.

“The idea of inclusivity and embracing the true you is very much a part of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and my classes,” Slater said.

Telford’s other theater credits include productions at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

She added that she’s had a great experience reconnecting with old colleagues and forming relationships with new actors during her time with “Sleeping Beauty.”

In addition to the Marriott, Telford has also performed standard musicals with Music Theater Works, a local company that frequently performs in Cahn Auditorium. However, she said she still loves performing in productions for young audiences.

“I just love the spirit of it and what can be done to teach and entertain the next generation of theatergoers,” she said.

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