Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires
The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical began decades ago, starring Julie Andrews and created for television in 1957. Other stars, like Lesley Ann Warren, later appeared in different versions. In 2013, Beane modernized the scripting for the Broadway presentation. This is certainly Cinderella and it intrigues to a far greater extent than might expect.
Playing the title character (Ella or Cinderella) is Kaitlyn Davidson, who projects a girl-next-door image. Performing opposite and coming from a wealthy realm is actor Andy Huntington Jones as Prince Topher. Early on, Davidson sings "In My Own Little Corner" and it does not require a whole lot to empathize with the young Cinderella. True, she has a less than ideal stepmother, Madame (Blair Ross). Madame admits she settled in with Cinderella's father for his money; eventually, Madame is not all that wicked. She does hope that one of her daughters, either Charlotte (Aymee Garcia) or Gabrielle (Kimberly Faure), will snag Topher.
It turns out, however, that Gabrielle is magnetically drawn to Jean-Michel (David Andino), who is concerned with bettering the plight of poor people. He also fits a comedic mode. Gabrielle supports Cinderella, and wishes to better the petite woman's situation. The other stepsister, Charlotte (Aymee Garcia), is self-ridiculing.
Cinderella also is assisted by wondrous Marie (Liz McCartney) who emerges as the beloved fairy godmother. McCarthy and Davidson combine voices on "Impossible" during the first act. Late, McCarthy has a fine solo in "There Is Music in You." Andy Huntington Jones is excellent with Kaitlyn Davidson on "Loneliness of Evening" and "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?"
Those concerned that the story line is forever altered need not fret: the glass slipper is pivotal as the proceedings unfold. Others looking for parents of the prince will not find them. An additional character is, as a bad guy, Sebastian (Blake Hammond), who wishes that the prince did not have any power. Actor Chauncey Packer plays Lord Pinkleton and he has a couple of shining vocal moments.
Kaitlyn Davidson and Andy Huntington Jones carry the leading roles with a winning chemistry. She is cute rather than dazzling and he is quite fair and handsome. This prince (orphaned) is not terribly certain that he will live up to his title. He says, coming on stage, "I just wish I was doing something more important with my life." Initially, she has trouble with the notion that she is capable of actually being with him.
Mark Brokaw directs the production which is, in the end, a special fairy tale and one which should appeal to people of all ages. Brokaw does a fine job of varying the pace. Josh Rhodes's choreography is splendid while William Ivey Long's costuming is, at times, spectacular. The orchestrations by Danny Troob and music adaptations/arrangements by David Chase are all plus factors.
Anna Louizos's settings are transportive. They are larger than life and rich in dimension. The magical world of fantasy opens up. Cynics, during the first 10 minutes of this performance, might attempt to resistnot easily accomplished. Beane's rendering includes much romance while it speaks to Cinderella's worth and that of people without means. This talented cast is filled with a becoming joie de vivre.
Cinderella continues at the Bushnell in Hartford, Connecticut through January 17th, 2016. For tickets, call (860) 987-5900 or visit bushnell.org. For more information on the tour, visit www.cinderellaonbroadway.com/tour/.