It’s December in Raleigh, and that means Cinderella is back at Raleigh Little Theatre for its 36th year. This year’s production is a fitting one to end the decade, packed with more verve and energy than a triple espresso, with extra foam of fun on top.
RLT‘s 2019 edition of Cinderella, which will run Thursday-Sunday through Dec 22nd in RLT‘s Cantey V. Sutton Theatre, is a staple for the holidays; and the familiar set and storyline don’t need to be expounded upon. What’s fun each year is to see how it changes and molds under the hands of the ever-changing cast, crew, and director.
Mike McGee’s direction of this 90-minute perk fest takes a leap into the style of British Panto, a bigger-than-life aesthetic designed to be high energy and family friendly. With an adapted script, season 36 is sprinkled heavily with pop-culture references and double-entendres that will keep audiences thoroughly entertained.
Ryann Catherine Perkins’ Cinderella lacks dimension, but is still plenty relatable to young viewers who want a plucky heroine to look up to. Tim Fitch’s prince is indeed Charming, and Benaiah Barnes is massively entertaining as King Darling III.
Loree Wilkinson’s Fairy Godmother is more sparkle than sass this year, orchestrating events with lofty maternal amusement. Fairy Godmother’s Helpers Rachel Ullman and Hannah Smith sink their teeth into the panto style and their outrageous antics are hysterical.
Lauren Tompkins takes her turn as the wicked Stepmama, with plenty of pomp and a killer singing voice. The stepsisters are double cast this year; this reviewer was privileged to see Dr. Timothy Cherry and Dennis Poole take on their signature roles in all their glory, and are certainly not to be missed as they reprise their roles for the 22nd year.
The rest of the cast is likewise outstanding, with delightfully impressive choreography by Jess Barbour. Andrea Dreier and Joanna Li helmed the musical direction, with a few adaptations that keep the musical true to form, despite a noticeably shortened version of Cinderella’s anthem “What’s to Become of Me.”
Jenny Mitchell has taken Vicki Olsen’s original costume designs and run with them, presenting a colorful array of period costumes and over-the-top outfits for the Evil Steps, in particular. It takes a massive crew to run a show of this caliber, and it would be impossible to mention them all — suffice to say, all hands were on deck and the Friday, Dec. 6th, opening-night performance went so smoothly that all the magic and charm of this holiday gem comes to life.
With shows already selling out, do not miss on this local holiday classic! For tickets, telephone 919-821-3111 or click here.
SECOND OPINION: Dec. 7th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh review by Nicole Ackman: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Review-CINDERELLA-Raleigh-Little-Theatre-20191207; Dec. 4th Raleigh, NC News & Observer mini-preview by Melissa Howsam: https://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/article237986649.html; and Dec. 2nd Cary, NC RDU on Stage podcast interview with co-musical director Joanna Li, conducted by Lauren Van Hemert: https://rduonstage.com/podcast/ep-49-talking-princess-holiday-traditions-new-and-old-with-garrett-clayton-a-snow-white-christmas-and-joanna-li-cinderella-2/.
Raleigh Little Theatre presents CINDERELLA at 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 and 13, 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 14 and 15, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19 and 20, 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 21 and 22 in RLT‘s Cantey V. Sutton Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $31 ($25.18 RLT members).
BOX OFFICE: 919-821-3111 or https://raleighlittletheatre.secure.force.com/.
SHOW: https://raleighlittletheatre.org/shows/cinderella/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/742893472894063/.
RLT‘S 2019-20 SEASON: https://raleighlittletheatre.org/announcing-the-2019-2020-season-now-then/.
PRESENTER: https://raleighlittletheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/RaleighLittleTheatre, https://twitter.com/RLT1936, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raleigh_Little_Theatre, and http://www.youtube.com/user/raleighlittletheatre.
MAPS/DIRECTIONS: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/about/map-directions.html. PARKING: http://raleighlittletheatre.org/about/parking.html.
NOTE 1: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive-listening devices are available for all shows. RLT has also installed a hearing loop in the Cantey V. Sutton Theatre.
NOTE 2: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15th, performance.
Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper Cendrillon, or La petite Pantoufle de Verre (1697 French fairy tale): https://www.britannica.com/topic/Cinderella-folktale-heroine (Encyclopædia Britannica) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella (Wikipedia).
Charles Perrault (French author, 1628-1703): https://www.britannica.com/biography/Charles-Perrault (Encyclopædia Britannica) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Perrault (Wikipedia).
Cinderella (e-texts of various versions of the fairy tale, as written by Charles Perrault and others): http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0510a.html (from D. L. Ashliman’s folk texts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology).
Cinderella (Prince Street Players Version): https://www.princestreetplayers.com/cinderella (Prince Street Players), https://www.mtishows.com/cinderella-prince-street-players-version (Music Theatre International), and http://www.guidetomusicaltheatre.com/shows_c/cinderella.htm (Guide to Musical Theatre).
Jeanne Bargy (music): https://www.princestreetplayers.com/our-shows (Prince Street Players bio).
Jim Eiler (music, lyrics, and book): https://www.princestreetplayers.com/our-shows (Prince Street Players bio).
Mike McGee (director): https://www.facebook.com/Mike.McGee9 (Facebook page).
Melanie Simmons of Cary, NC is a film and stage actress with a BA degree in Theatre from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA. She has studied acting with Sande Shurin Acting Studios in New York City and The Actor’s Workshop in Los Angeles, CA; and she now trains locally with Lynda Clark (stage), Daryl Ray Carlisle (film/commercial), and Rebekah Holland (voice). Simmons has performed at Raleigh Little Theatre in Raleigh, Forest Moon Theater in Wake Forest, Stageworks Theatre in Holly Springs, and many others. She is represented by Talent One Agency in Raleigh. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.