This weekend, Summit, NJ-based Work Light Productions’ Second National Tour of the award-winning 2013 Broadway production of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella will play the five enchanted evening and matinee performances on Dec. 30-Jan. 1 at the Durham Performing Arts Center, in the American Tobacco Historic District of downtown Durham. Originally written as a television special for CBS by composer Richard Rodgers (1902-79) and lyricist and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960), this fairy-tale musical premiered on March 31, 1957, with Julie Andrews in the title role, Edith Adams as her Fairy Godmother, and Jon Cypher as the Prince whom Cinderella beguiles.
Various stage productions of Cinderella have ensued, starting at the London Coliseum in December 1958; but it was not until New York City playwright and screenwriter Douglas Carter Beane penned a new book that Cinderella finally made its Broadway debut on March 3, 2013 at the Broadway Theatre, under the direction of Mark Brokaw and featuring choreography by Josh Rhodes.
The show’s belated Broadway premiere earned nine 2013 Tony Award® nominations, including nominations for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Book of a Musical (Douglas Carter Beane); and North Carolina native William Ivey Long won the 2013 Tony for Best Costume Design of a Musical.
Broadway audiences cheered Beane’s fresh new take on this familiar fairy tale about a chambermaid who becomes a princess; and classic Rodgers and Hammerstein songs — such as “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible/It’s Possible,” “Ten Minutes Ago” and “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” — strummed on audiences’ heartstrings.
“There are a couple of new characters and a couple of new songs [originally written for other Rodgers and Hammerstein shows and seamlessly woven into Cinderella’s plot],” says Sarah L. Primmer, who plays Cinderella’s insufferably vain and domineering stepmother Madame. She also notes, “The plot is updated to reflect the world that we’re in today…. There are some new hurdles to overcome, and the payoff is fantastic.”
Primmer claims, “I think of Madame as being a very driven woman and really trying to look out for her daughters and make sure that they are cared for…. I identify with the drive that she has. I think she’s quite a courageous woman.”
In addition to Sarah L. Primmer as Madame, the Second National Tour stars Tatyana Lubov as Ella (a.k.a. Cinderella) and Hayden Stanes as Prince Topher, Joanna Johnson as Cinderella’s cruel stepsister Charlotte, Mimi Robinson as her initially condescending but ultimately sympathetic stepsister Gabrielle; Leslie Jackson as Cinderella’s all-wise and loving Fairy Godmother Marie; Ryan M. Hunt as Topher’s power-hungry Lord Chancellor Sebastian; Vincent B. Davis as Sebastian’s second-in-command Lord Pinkleton; and Chris Woods as the penniless revolutionary Jean-Michel, with whom Gabrielle falls in love.
In addition to director Mark Brokaw and choreographer Josh Rhodes, the tour’s creative team includes scenic designer Anna Louizos, lighting designer William Ivey Long, costume designer William Ivey Long, and sound designer Nevin Steinberg — all of whom repeat their roles from the show’s inaugural Broadway production, which ended on Jan. 3, 2015, after 769 performances. The tour also features musical adaptation, supervision, and arrangements by David Chase and orchestrations by Danny Troob, both of whom were also part of the original Broadway production’s creative team.
An Atlanta, GA native whose family moved to Simsbury, CT, a suburb of Hartford, when she was seven, Sarah Primmer admits that she was bitten by the theater bug when she played (who else?) Cinderella in a second-grade theatrical production based on the fairy tale. She says that she studied theater privately, starting at age 13. In high school, she was one of only six people in the state of Connecticut awarded a music fellowship by the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford. She subsequently graduated cum laude, with a BA in Music (Vocal Performance) and Theatre (Acting) from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.
When she tried out for the current tour, Primmer says, she initially read for the role of Fairy Godmother. The she was asked to read for Madame. “I just thought that Madame was so funny, cunning, and ambitious, and had a lot of complicated things to work out — which is exactly what you’re looking for when you’re contemplating playing a part of a year…. It was definitely a good fit when I started reading for Madame,” says Primmer.
“I think that people should come [to Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella] excited to hear the songs that they know, but keep an open mind about some of the new plot twists,” says Sarah Primmer. She adds, “People will laugh and cry…. I think that they will really enjoy some of the new additions.”
What would be Happily Ever After for Sarah Primmer? “For me right now,” she says, “Happily Ever After would be continuing to work, making a life working in this industry. That would be a great Happily Ever After for me.”
SECOND OPINION: Dec. 23rd Raleigh, NC WRAL.com preview by Kathy Hanrahan for “What’s on Tap”: http://www.wral.com/elon-grad-hits-stage-in-cinderella-at-dpac/16358311/; and Dec. 22nd Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: http://www.heraldsun.com/lifestyles/entertainment_more/fairy-tale-cinderella-a-chance-to-dream-beyond-the-ball/article_d76f1f34-c87d-11e6-ad32-0f0dd203625b.html (Note: You must subscribe to read this article).
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA at 8 p.m. Dec. 30, 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 31, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Jan. 1 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.
TICKETS: $35-$115. Click here for DPAC Special Offers.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/806215.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/group-services.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.cinderellaonbroadway.com/lookandlisten.
TOUR CREATIVE TEAM: http://www.cinderellaonbroadway.com/castandcreative#creative.
Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper Cendrillon, ou La petite Pantoufle de Verre (1697 French fairy tale): http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0510a.html#perrault (from D. L. Ashliman’s folk texts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella (Wikipedia).
Charles Perrault (French author, 1628-1703): 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).
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1957 television musical): http://www.rnh.com/show/22/Cinderella (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization), http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/461545/Cinderella/ (Turner Classic Movies), and 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), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0006256/ (Internet Movie 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), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0358564/ (Internet Movie 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.rnh.com/show/364/Cinderella-Broadway-Version (Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization), 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).
Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing email@example.com and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)