‘Descendants’ enchants with extreme talent, Disney magic


Photo by Alex Gaines ’25

Staples Players’ production of Disney’s “Descendants” runs from April 1-3 and 8-9. The lighthearted musical tells the story of the teenage children of classic Disney villains being faced with threats from their parents, forcing them to explore the world of “good” Disney characters.

I’m never surprised by the excellence of Staples Players shows. With such a talented cast and crew, I believe every production I see will be astounding. 

I have to admit, though, I was a bit concerned before I saw “Descendants.” A Disney Channel original movie turned musical aimed specifically for middle and elementary school audiences definitely takes a lot more work to appeal to high schoolers than a classic like Grease. But it was Staples Players, so I tried to go into the opening night of “Descendants” with the same high expectations I would have with any other Players show.

I’m thrilled to report that my expectations were met, and Staples Players’ “Descendants” was an incredible production of a fun, charming and extremely catchy Disney musical.

“Descendants” started as a Disney Channel original movie, telling the story of the kids of four Disney villains: Mal (Quinn Mulvey ’23), Evie (Jackie Peterson ’23 / Chloe Manna ’22), Jay (Ben Herrera ’24) and Carlos (Jayden Saenz ’23). 

The story details how the kids are sent to Auradon Prep, a school for the “good” Disney characters. Chaos ensues as Mal is commanded by her mother Maleficent to steal the Fairy Godmother’s magic wand, but Mal struggles with her own beliefs and debates the difference between good and evil. Staples brought this story to the stage from April 1-3 and 8-9, condensing elements from the three movies in the “Descendants” franchise into a singular storyline performed on stage.

“Descendants” begins in the Isle of the Lost where the four main “villain kids” dance to the energizing “Rotten to the Core” with an upbeat ensemble. This intensely choreographed number was a great way to start the show with that high energy level being kept throughout the rest of the performance.

Descendants may not have been the most poignant or emotional musical, but Staples Players allows the audience to have fun with its lovable characters and memorable music.

— Alex Gaines ’25

Mulvey, Peterson, Manna, Herrera and Saenz did an incredible job as the leads, keeping the audience engaged with the show’s simple but impactful themes about growing up under the shadow of your parents.

I was just as amazed by the performances of the rest of the cast, especially the Disney villain parents – Maleficent, Queen Grimhilde, Jafar and Cruella De Vil. These villains brought a lot of humor to the show as well as some incredible numbers such as “Rotten to the Core (Parents’ Revenge)” and Maleficent’s “Evil Like Me.”

While the cast deserves endless praise, I have to acknowledge the incredible talent of the tech crew. The set was extremely complex and the lighting, sound and costumes gave “Descendants” a true sense of Disney magic.

While I feared that the musical would feel too immature for me as an audience member, I cheered, clapped and felt a strong urge to dance to the upbeat songs throughout the entire show. Descendants may not have been the most poignant or emotional musical, but Staples Players allows the audience to have fun with its lovable characters and memorable music.