Mel Angelo and Madelyn Sweet in “The Sand Princess” at the Desert of Maine. Photo by Anne Collins

The Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble planned to launch the world premiere of “The Sand Princess” on June 3 in the Desert of Maine, but rain and cold temperatures forced the ensemble to cancel the first three dates of the run. Mother Nature finally granted a rain-free opening night Sunday, when conditions couldn’t have been better for the outdoor performance.

The temperature was in the 70s, and there wasn’t a cloud in the vibrant blue sky as a light breeze rustled the leaves and needles of the trees bordering Freeport’s fine-sand desert. A colorfully painted camel statue overlooked the setting from atop a sand dune, and sand stretched out in front of the audience as far as the eye could see.

While composer Dashiell Legawiec set the mood on guitar, the cast frolicked across the distant sand dunes in white-faced makeup and vivid costumes by Anne Collins and ghoul costumes by Robert Velasquez. As they neared, it was clear that they came ready to entertain.

Packed with parables and nuggets of wisdom, “The Sand Princess,” written and directed by Stephen Legawiec, is a comedic tale about a young man, who was orphaned as a boy and raised as a prince by the King Ghoul (Lyra Legawiec). The play begins as the prince (Nate Stephenson) is about to marry the Princess Abumuhor (Cami Gibson). Kathleen Nation adds flare as the tale’s narrator – listed in the program as The Reciter – and as the Spirit of the Great Desert near the end of the play.

In Shakespearean fashion, the tale offers plenty of amusing plot twists and a case of mistaken identity. It would ruin the fun to reveal too much of the storyline, but Mel Angelo is sublime as the villainess sister, Lurana. Her versatility shined opening night as she effortlessly flipped from helpless damsel to scheming scoundrel.

Emily Grotz and Dana Legawiec as Fft and Wogwee in “The Sand Princess.” Photo by Anne Collins

A story like this wouldn’t be complete without a couple of fools for comedic effect. Dana Legawiec and Emily Grotz are well-cast as Wogwee (the short ghoul) and Fft (the tall ghoul), wearing ghoul masks by Beckie Kravetz. The duo never failed to deliver laughs with their ridiculous antics and propensity for misunderstanding the obvious. Dana Legawiec truly transformed into her character with animal-like movements and often stole the scene with her laughter-inducing escapades and uncanny ability to deliver comedic expression through a mask. Their story arc is not only amusing, but also serves as a reminder that even the most menial of tasks can be life-changing.


Although not a true musical, the play uses guitar-accompanied songs to enhance the production. Rita Micklus, backed by members of the cast, weaves an enchanting story with her beautifully clear soprano on “Song of the Kingdom” and “Love Song,” written by Stephen Legawiec.

Madelyn Sweet rounds out the official cast as the Brigand and Palace Servant, but there is an uncredited 10th cast member that puts the finishing touch on the production: the desert. The play utilizes very few props, and the desert is the sole scenery. It takes on a life of its own, solidifying the magic of the evening.

The Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble offers a minimalist approach that sparks the imagination and tickles the funny bone, with a delightful cast that is as colorful as their costumes and a story that keeps the audience entertained and engaged. And, with a start time of 6 p.m. and an hour runtime, the audience Sunday got to literally walk into the start of a gorgeous sunset. It was a remarkable end to an enjoyable evening of – as the program says – “music!”, “comedy!” and “spectacle!”.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. Contact her at:
Twitter: @ahboyle

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