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RLT Is Bringing “Cinderella” Home

"Cinderella" 2009 cast (find Cinderella -- she is hidden by a bunch of hams!)

"Cinderella" 2009 cast (find Cinderella -- she is hidden by a bunch of hams!)

Raleigh Little Theatre is bringing Cinderella home. After years of performing this seasonal show at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh, RLT will present its zany 27th annual presentation of Cinderella on Dec. 10-12 and 16-19 in its own Cantey V. Sutton Theatre in west Raleigh.

Long-time RLT artistic director Haskell Fitz-Simons says that the move from the 600-seat A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater to RLT‘s approximately 300-seat main-stage theater is a matter of economics.

“Our profit margin was disappearing,” Fitz-Simons explains, “plus Cinderella really shines in this space. You can see faces throughout the whole house, instead of the first third of the auditorium. The Sutton Theatre is a wonderful space for Cinderella. I’m glad its home.”

Fitz-Simons adds, “The acoustics [of the Sutton Theatre] are certainly better. We really don’t require any sort of boosting for the ensemble

Director Haskell Fitz-Simons, who has directed all 26 previous RLT productions of Cinderella, will once again team up with choreographer Missy Dapper and musical director Julie Florin to stage this delightful musical comedy, which features music by Jim Eiler and Jeanne Bargy and a book and lyrics by Eiler, based on the familiar French fairy tale by Charles Perrault (1628-1703).

Fitz-Simons notes, “There are some new wrinkles [in the show this year], but I really don’t want to reveal them. Suffice it to say that there’s a new song [by Haskell Fitz-Simons and Julie Florin] and a new scenic element…. Cinderella is ever-evolving.”

He adds, “We have a very young and talented cast this year. There are newcomers who’ve never seen the show before and [most of the cast] have never seen it at RLT. It’s going to be fun to see them get off and running.”

The 2010 edition of Cinderella stars Hailey Best as Cinderella, Jillian Varner as her Fairy Godmother, Pelham Jacobs as Prince Charming, Rose Martin Higgins as Cinderella’s evil Stepmama, and M. Dennis Poole and Tim Cherry — in glorious drag, complete with yarn wigs — as Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters Gertrude and Henrietta.

Other Cinderella “principals” include: Jason Cooper and Robert Steinberg as Fairy Godmother’s Helpers; Warren Keyes as King Darling; John Coleman Demers as the Young Prince; and Jordan Monk and Emily Schmid as Pages. The mice whom the Fairy Godmother transforms into ponies to pull Cinderella’s carriage include Chase Allen, Monica Powell, Courtney Pring, Lauren Simmons, Elizabeth Sullivan, and Barrett Winters.

The men’s ensemble includes Anthony Acosta, Ryan Bliss, Jerry Brown, Lee King, Jordan Simpson, Tyler Smith, and Mark Taranto; and the women’s ensemble includes Amy Berenson, Ruth Berry, Victoria Callus, Sarah Gordon, Ford Hibbits, Pam Kadzielawski, Stephanie Kruchesky, and Heather Murray.

In addition to director Haskell Fitz-Simons, choreographer Missy Dapper, and music director Julie Florin, the Raleigh Little Theatre creative team for the 27th edition of Cinderella includes assistant to the director Barney Weaver, technical director Jim Zervas, lighting designer Cailen Waddell, costume designer Vicki Olson, sound designer Todd Houseknecht, and stage manager Mike McGee. Former RLT set designers Bill Rodgers and Rick Young created most show’s storybook scenery.

Fitz-Simons points out, “We’ve got a new Fairy Godmother [Jillian Varner], who I’m sure wasn’t born when we started doing this show. She’s 21 or 22, and she’s lovely.”

He adds, “Rose Higgins is playing Stepmama, and she’s a wonder to behold. She’s as funny a Stepmama as I’ve seen recently, giving all due respect to the Stepmamas of the past.”

Director Haskell Fitz-Simons claims, “One of the reasons that we went downtown was to extend the identity of Raleigh Little Theatre, but I think that sort of backfired on us. If [Cinderella ticket buyers] have never been to RLT, they will see what a jewel it is.”

Raleigh Little Theatre presents CINDERELLA at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 11 and 12, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16 and 17, and 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 18 and 19 in RLT‘s Cantey V. Sutton Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607. TICKETS: $25. BOX OFFICE: 919/821-3111 or SHOW: PRESENTER/VENUE: DIRECTIONS/PARKING: NOTE: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive-listening devices are available for all shows. OTHER LINKS: Cinderella: (Wikipedia) and (from D. L. Ashliman’s folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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3 Responses

  1. And a big thanks to Bob and Susie for TA&E. We need you folks and the great work you do promoting our performing arts community.


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