Raleigh Little Theatre’s Nov. 30th opening-night performance of Cinderella enchanted RLT patrons of all ages with its festive, hilarious, cleverly modern, and altogether magical rendition of the classic fairy tale. This RLT holiday tradition for 35 years once again delighted families as it kicked off the Christmas season to a packed house, this time under the direction of Mike McGee.
Enough cannot be said about the amazing production staff that directed, staged, choreographed, and created the fantastic kingdom that wowed guests from the first song to the final bow. The set was beautiful, further enhanced by warm Christmas decorations and snow. Costumes are magnificent, especially during the Christmas Eve Ball, where the choreography is also very elegant.
One exceptionally mesmerizing and well-staged moment occurred when the Fairy Godmother transformed a pumpkin into a coach, the Mice into Ponies, and Cinderella’s rags into a sparkly gown. The creativity of the costuming and stage effects truly made the magic of this moment real.
Like the very talented crew, the cast of Cinderella is similarly spectacular. The Fairy Godmother (Lauren Bamford) and her Helpers (Chelsea Cullen and Miranda Millang-Valdivia) shone throughout the production. Bamford was everything a fairy godmother should be, and her crystal singing voice and overall bewitching demeanor carried the narrative of the play. Cullen and Millang-Valdivia played the perfect sidekicks, often stealing the spotlight with their constant and expertly executed humor that elicited hearty laughs in nearly every scene.
Stepmama (Elizabeth M. Quesada) and the stepsisters, Henrietta (Dr. Timothy Cherry) and Gertrude (M. Dennis Poole), similarly kept guests roaring with their exaggerated voices and hilarious antics. King Darling III (T.J. Rogers) offered a perfectly goofy and quirky performance that supplied no shortage of laughs as well. Cinderella (Lauren Knott) and Prince Charming (Christian Mucci) were also surprisingly comical in their performances.
Knott is simply born to play Cinderella — from her sweet demeanor to her beautiful singing voice, it is no wonder this is her fourth year with the production. Mucci similarly delivered a standout performance in his RLT debut.
The entirety of Cinderella was surprisingly comedic, thanks largely to the talented cast and even more so to the witty dialogue that rolled from start to finish. Humorous references to current pop culture phenomena such as the all-popular pumpkin spice latte, Cam Newton-inspired “dabbing,” fake news and the “floss” dance move surprised and charmed patrons. These topics were cleverly and seamlessly integrated to the age-old tale, and the modernization made the story even more enjoyable, accessible and all-out funny.
The characters repeatedly broke the Fourth Wall throughout the play, adding to the humor and even engaging the audience in song at one point. Perhaps, the most exciting point of the evening was Prince Charming’s epic and iconic search to find the lost princess whose foot the glass slipper would fit.
Much to the audience’s pleasant surprise, Prince Charming and the Fairy Godmother’s Helpers ventured into the auditorium to try the shoe on several of the younger maidens’ feet. Met with beaming smiles, shrieks of excitement, and plenty of laughter, the entire search was cleverly captured via Facebook Live and projected upon the stage, so all could keep up with the prince’s quest.
With each show, RLT continues to raise the bar for what it means to be a community theater. Time and time again, RLT‘s highly talented cast and crew not only pull off a spectacular show, but also engages its audience — especially the little ones — in such a way that is memorable and magical. It is clear in each and every performance that RLT appreciates and is there to serve its community patrons.
If attending RLT‘s annual showing of Cinderella is not currently a holiday tradition of your family’s, I would absolutely urge you to consider making it one. This production is completely captivating for children and equally as enjoyable for adults. RLT consistently goes above and beyond for its patrons, and Cinderella was no exception to that. There are so many incredible things to be said for this production that it would simply take up too much space and time, so I once again urge you to see the magic for yourself.
SECOND OPINION: Dec. 3rd Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh BWW Review Lauren Van Hemert: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Review-Steeped-in-Tradition-Raleigh-Little-Theatres-CINDERELLA-Brims-with-Enchantment-20181203 and Nov. 11th BWW Video Interview with director Mike McGee and actress Lauren Knott, conducted by Lauren Van Hemert: https://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/BWW-Interview-Mike-McGee-And-Lauren-Knott-of-Raleigh-Little-Theatres-CINDERELLA-Talk-Holiday-Tradition-and-the-Importance-of-Family-Productions-20181111; Dec. 3rd Raleigh, NC Chatham Life & Style Mother-and-Son review by Rachel Kasten & Emory Kasten (who gave the show a Thumbs Up!): https://chathamlifeandstyle.com/reviews-and-features; and Dec. 1st Raleigh, NC CVNC review by Alan R. Hall: https://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=9180.
Raleigh Little Theatre presents CINDERELLA at 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13 and 14, and 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 16 and 17 in RLT‘s Cantey V. Sutton Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $33 ($27 RLT members).
BOX OFFICE: 919-821-3111 or https://raleighlittletheatre.secure.force.com/ticket/#details_a0S0V0000105pjuUAA.
SHOW: https://raleighlittletheatre.org/shows/cinderella/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/1995591730732436/.
RLT‘S 2018-19 SEASON: https://raleighlittletheatre.org/shows-and-events/memberships/.
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.
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 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13th, 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).
Sarah McQuillan is a government affairs professional based out of Raleigh, NC, and an alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A lover of the performing and visual arts since childhood, she began writing theater reviews for the Daily Tar Heel in college and continues to keep this love alive writing for Triangle Arts and Entertainment. Sarah spends her free time experiencing new restaurants, playing the piano, learning new languages, and taking leisurely strolls with her elderly dog.