Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
My Name Is Cinderella
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Broward College Central Campus Fine Arts Theatre presents My Name is Cinderella. The story of Cinderella is known by many as the tale written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the early 1900s. It is in fact attributed to Charles Perrault (1628-1703), whose stories derived from pre-existing folk tales, and who laid the foundation for a new literary genre called the fairy tale. His "Cendrillon, ou la Petite Pantoufle de Verre" ("Cinderella or The Little Glass Slipper") is the story of an unjustly oppressed young woman whose life is changed, through deserved good fortune, to one of recognition and happiness. The story of Cinderella was most notably made popular to Americans by the 1950 animated Disney film, and the 1957 Rodgers and Hammerstein made-for-TV musical Cinderella (with later versions released in 1965 and 1997). This timeless tale has been told again and again in countless plays, pantomimes, musicals, operas, ballets, movies and animated films.
This contemporary adaptation of the story of Cinderella, by director Jett Canary, sticks most closely to the standard plot of the original musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Dialogue has been trimmed and modernized, while additional moments of song have been added. Some of the insertions of pop songs in place of ones that may have existed in the Rodgers and Hammerstein version make complete sense. For example, Cinderella's song of restlessness, "In My Own Little Corner," is replaced nicely with the song "No Air" (Jordin Sparks). The song "I Gotta Feeling" (Black Eyed Peas) is a welcome substitution for "The Prince is Giving a Ball." It also establishes early on the intention of this production. The cast of My Name is Cinderella handles the story of Cinderella like a cross between the cast of the TV shows "Glee" and "Saturday Night Live."
The set is simple but clever. Large letters spelling out the word "CINDERELLA" frame the back of the stage. The rest is curtains and lighting. Though the lighting is fine for the majority of the show, it is far too dark at the beginning when the characters are being introduced. Larry Baughman provides colorful costumes that help set the mood. While the actors are not individually provided microphones, the sound is generally good. The sung moments are all loud and clear. There were just a few sentences of dialogue too soft to hear on the night attended.
The cast as a whole is best at the comedy of this piece. Though the more serious moments may be under-acted, the farcical ones work well. Perhaps because we are all familiar with the story line and the overly sweet treatment it may receive, approaching Cinderella's story with humor is refreshing. Some of the actors are clearly more comfortable on stage than others. Elisa Welch as Cinderella has a decent pop sound to her voice, and Eric Bourza as Prince Charming has a small but pleasant voice. Karen Reid as the Fairy Godmother is both the strongest singer and the strongest comedienne in this show. She is completely at home on stage, and her delivery at times approaches that of a stand-up comic. Arlandres Sims, who plays the King, is also very funny. He and Felicia Jackson as his Queen have warmth and chemistry as a couple. They really do pay attention to and play off each other on stage. Molly Johnson and Kayla Martinez are admirably committed as the unattractive and obnoxious stepsisters you love to hate, Tasty Cake and Dolly Madison.
Much of the singing in the show is rough around the edges, but the choice of new songs is enjoyable, and the actors really seem able to relate to these choices. Putting a new spin on an old story and making it relatable is, after all, the task at hand. At the beginning of the show, the hushed chorus of accusatory voices saying "Cinderella" make it seem like her saying "My name is Cinderella" is a shameful apology. At the end of the show, the same same response becomes a joyful acclamation. In this, My Name is Cinderella has served the intent of the elements of the myth of Cinderella well, while providing some fun along the way.
My Name is Cinderella will appear through August 1, 2010. Performances take place Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm in The Fine Arts Theatre on Broward College's Central Campus, 3501 Davie Road, Building 6, Second Floor, Davie, Florida, 33314. Tickets for all performances are $5 for children, seniors, and BC students, faculty and staff, and $10 for general admission. For ticket purchase, or to receive more information call 954-201-6884.