I had the supreme pleasure to escort a little Cinderella, in her princess dress, to the TUTS production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, on a magical, warm, clear night. The smile was a mile wide before the show and carried on throughout the play and out the gates!
It seems every little girl’s dream is that her Fairy Godmother will create a ball gown and glass slippers for her so she can go meet her prince.
My grand-daughter’s favourite part was not when Cinderella was beautifully transformed but when Fairy Godmother (Lauren Cowan) with her outstanding voice and entering as a homeless bag lady, Crazy Marie, becomes the Fairy Godmother. This confirmed her belief that magic and the ability to create positive change is the most important thing.
Douglas Carter Beane wrote the new book for this Broadway production but the crux of the story is the same; beneath this old, magical story of the abused, overworked young woman becoming the wife of the Prince, is a contemporary spin on the desire of the ordinary people for freedom, equal rights and a better life. Beane’s plot has Cinderella exposing the injustices of the kingdom to Prince Topher, and controlling what happens to the glass slipper for the first time ever.
In this version, directed by Sarah Rodgers, the prince’s parents have died, and left the kingdom in the hands of Sebastian (Michael Wild), the evil, arrogant and calculating minister, who is the prince’s guardian and has obscured the oppressive laws he’s tricked the prince into stamping with his royal ring. Cinderella’s household contains Madame, a cruel, conniving stepmother played maleficently by Caitlin Clugston) and a cantankerous stepsister, Charlotte (Amanda Lourenco). In this version, however, the other stepsister, Gabrielle (Vanessa Merenda), is kind and supportive of Cinderella, and is a delightful secondary character with a storyline of her own. She is in love with the town revolutionary, Jean-Michel (Daniel Curalli) who has eyes for her, as well.
Mallory James beautifully leads the cast as Cinderella with her appealingly likeable, gentle stage presence and lovely voice. Singing the most beloved songs, including “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible/It’s Possible” and “Ten Minutes Ago,” with Cowen and Tre Cotten as Prince Topher, the night became more magical. Of note, Caleb Lagayan as Lord Pinkleton is delightful as the bearer of royal news to the town.
Costumes designed by Christina Sinosich are an eclectic mix of medieval, modern, foreign, fifties, and fancy. We move from knights dressed in purple and leather that transform into horses, to poor serfs, to a bag lady in a beige trench coat, to transformative gowns at a masked ball. The Prince is dressed in varied multicultural eastern dress suits, not traditional tuxedos or morning coats.
The show’s set designer Brian Ball creates the palace with pyramid like interconnecting steps and fluorescent backdrops and Ella’s cottage in the woods looks like a life-sized doll house.
Nicol Spinola’s choreography, which includes transformations, dancers into horses, a unique interpretation of Ella’s journey to the ball, and the elegant “Ten Minutes Ago”, features some lovely ensemble dancers, including the excellent pair of Sophia Curalli and Joshua Lalisan.
The magic in Cinderella exists for little girls and big, in this hilarious and romantic experience of the hard working girl and the prince, with the help of a Fairy Godmother, with a pumpkin, a glass slipper, at a masked ball leading to a great future. Sitting in the beautiful warm night, anyone who’s ever had a wish, a dream, will enjoy this production.
A Theatre Under the Stars production. At Malkin Bowl on Tuesday, July 11. Continues until August 18.
All images by Lindsay Elliott Photography