Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” originally written for television in 1957, is colorful, odd, kitschy, and absolutely perfect for a stage musical. In fact, it’s kind of surprising that no one thought to turn it into one until last year when the show, with book by Douglas Carter Bane, hit Broadway. In line with its mission of bringing world-class theatre to North Carolina, DPAC wasted no time in bringing this fun and fabulous production to the Triangle.
Featuring a charmingly rustic woodland-style set by Anna Louizos as the backdrop, the classic story unfolds with one fun twist after another. This is not the Disney version of the story or even the one that most Americans grew up hearing. Instead, it more closely follows Charles Perrault’s French rendition of the story. The stepsisters aren’t completely evil- just a little misguided, and Cinderella doesn’t just helplessly lose her slipper on the palace steps. No, as a powerful woman capable of making decisions for herself, she leaves it there to set her Prince’s plan in motion- a much better message to send to young female viewers. There are also political messages as well, and the story as a whole is smarter and more adult than other versions.
The cast, under the direction of Mark Brokaw, strikes a careful balance between playing to the fantasy/princess/fairytale elements of the story and delivering the show’s more bitingly funny lines with gusto. The result is a performance that’s enjoyable for both adults and children.
Paige Faure’s Cinderella is as funny and witty as she is adorable while Andy Jones’ Topher (the prince) is equally endearing. He plays up the character’s tendency to sometimes be…less than astute for laughs while still stunning the audience with his powerful singing voice. Even evil Madame, with her super-shrill voice, is fun to hate thanks to Beth Glover’s spirited performance while the not-so-evil stepsisters bring vibrancy to their roles as well. Ashley Park lets Gabrielle’s hidden sweet side shine, and Aymee Garcia is easily the funniest in the cast as fat, bossy Charlotte who always speaks her mind.
The real standout of the cast is Kecia Lewis’ Marie aka the fairy godmother. From the moment she makes her magical transformation, she captivates her audience. She adds humor to each of her songs and also has a wonderfully kind, rich, no-nonsense quality about her that makes her perfect for the role.
With Lewis and the rest of its stellar female cast (the males hold their own too!), this version of Cinderella is an empowering, modern one and provides a nice break from the standard fairytale fare.
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA (Durham Performing Arts Center, Nov. 18-23 in Durham.
SHOW: http://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/cinderella and https://www.facebook.com/events/252484121602980/.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNAbN8okfj7QbQxdD_eNhEw and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20rEbtqnMcQ.
STUDY GUIDE: http://www.cinderellaonbroadway.com/files/educationguide.pdf. THE TOUR: http://www.cinderellaonbroadway.com/tour/.
TOUR CAST: http://cinderellaonbroadway.com/Playbill_CastList_Website.pdf.
TOUR CREATIVE TEAM: http://www.cinderellaonbroadway.com/castandcreative#creative.
SUNTRUST BROADWAY SERIES: http://www.dpacnc.com/suntrust-broadway-series.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.dpacnc.com/, https://www.facebook.com/DPACNC, https://twitter.com/DPAC, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham_Performing_Arts_Center.
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1957 television musical): http://www.rnh.com/show/22/Cinderella (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
Richard Rodgers (New York City composer, 1902-79): http://www.rnh.com/bio/175/Rodgers-Richard (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization bio), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=8323 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Rodgers (Wikipedia).
Oscar Hammerstein II (New York City lyricist and librettist, 1895-1960): http://www.rnh.com/bio/154/Hammerstein-II-Oscar (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization bio), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=7965 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Hammerstein_II (Wikipedia).
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella (2013 Broadway musical): http://cinderellaonbroadway.com/ (official Broadway website), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=493253 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella_%282013_Broadway_production%29 (Wikipedia).
Douglas Carter Beane (New York City playwright and screenwriter): http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=407150 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Carter_Beane (Wikipedia).
Mark Brokaw (director): http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=85204 (Internet Broadway Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Brokaw (Wikipedia).
Josh Rhodes (Broadway and tour choreographer): http://www.joshrhodes.co/ (official website) and http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=71545 (Internet Broadway Database).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.