Written by Daniella Litvak
One of Cinderella’s enduring qualities is its adaptability. The fairy tale about a girl and her glass slippers has been told in novels, films — animated and live-action — and of course musicals. Theater legends Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II adapted Cinderella into a musical for television in 1957 (starring Julie Andrews in the title role). Afterwards, it made the transition to stage show, becoming a popular production in the process.
Cinderella (Tawni Bridenball) is a maiden living with her Stepmother (Mary Murphy-Nelson) and stepsisters, Portia (Trevin Stephenson) and Joy (Stephanie Bull), and they treat her like a maid. Her only respite from their cruel and witless demands are her dreams of traveling all over the world and having grand adventures.
She’s not the only dreamer in the kingdom. Prince Christopher (Billy Reed) dreams of finding his true love. Will she make an appearance at the upcoming royal ball — the ball all the girls in the kingdom, including Cinderella, are dying to attend? Will Cinderella’s wish come true?
In other words, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella is a straightforward, light-hearted Cinderella story. The first act was kind of staid, especially during the spoken scenes. More drama would have been appreciated. The second act was more lively.
The show has some catchy songs. Bridenball gave an impressive rendition of “In My Own Little Corner.” Any musical number where the Ensemble was given the opportunity to showoff was fun. (The occasional acrobatic moves were a nice touch). My favorite song of the night was “Stepsister’s Lament.” Not only was it funny and well-performed, I felt sympathetic towards the stepsisters as they sang about their frustrations over Prince Christopher not choosing girls like them.
Speaking of the stepsisters, Stephenson and Bull along with Murphy-Nelson as Stepmother were the stand-out performers. They brought a lot of personality to the roles. Their facial expressions were on point. The actresses’ movements beautifully captured their characters’ uncouth behavior.
Take away their royal ensemble, and the King (Chris Caputo) and Queen (Kristin Henry) would feel right at home in a sitcom. Fortunately, their bickering about marriage and money was good-natured and entertaining.
Fitting the tone of the story, the show goes with cute-looking — as opposed to grim, more realistic — medieval design. The exterior set of Cinderella’s cottage with its well was adorable. The digital backdrops were pretty and amplified the various moods depicted onstage.
Like the set design, the costumes opted for more romantic, fairy tale looks. The glittery, jewel-toned, gowns worn during the royal ball were beautiful and brightened up the stage. The garish, slightly witchy outfits Stepmother and the stepsisters wore were a perfect match for the characters.