Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
But times have changed. The Cinderella story was been rewritten by Oscar Hammerstein II and again by Douglas Carter Beane. The beautiful score of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II provides a wonderful way to underline the story of Cinderella and her search for love. Beane also write the books for the musicals Xanadu and Sister Act.
The new stage version, based on the recent Broadway production, is now playing in the Connor Palace, Play House Square. And, what a glorious production it is. Anna Louizos designed a fairyland set, with humble cottage, mysterious woods, and a grand flight of steps leading to a palace that, I'm sure, is just out of the audience's sight.
William Ivey Long designed fabulous costumes. The fairy godmother named Marie flies onto the stage from someplace where good fairy godmother's wait for their entrances. Her costume is a wonderful gown with wires for flying and a horizontal farthingale. The gown is truly impressive and she flies across the stage in this dress.
Cinderella has two remarkable costume changes. At one point she's dressed as a humble peasant. Within 15 seconds the peasant dress becomes a white gown with a long train (something appropriate to wear to a Prince's party at the palace). The mysterious, magical costume changes receive long, loud applause of approval.
This production of Cinderella has much to recommend it.
For some time, touring productions were often fortunate to get an understudy's understudy to play the lead. This production has several performers who've worked in the show on Broadway. Paige Faure and Andy Huntington Jones have played these leading roles on Broadway. They are as beautiful and as talented as we could want the heroes in our fairy tales to be.
Lauren Sprague has just taken over the role of Marie the fairy godmother. She is beautiful and has a glorious voice.
The writers have softened Madame (the wicked stepmother), played by Beth Glover, and her two daughters Gabrielle and Charlotte, played by Kaitlyn Davidson and Aymee Garcia, respectively. Gabrielle is tall and lean. Charlotte is short and robust. Both sing well, as does Glover as Madame.
The plot is thickened by the revelation that Sebastian, the Prime Minister (Branch Woodman), is withholding information from Prince Topher. He is not old enough to be king, just yet. The government is taking land from the farmers and landowners. The government is making life rough for the common folks.
The Prince wants to do more with his life than have parties. (Does this sound a bit like Pippin?)
The revolutionary is Jean-Michel, energetically played by Will Blum. Jean-Michel is in love with Gabrielle and she's in love with him.
When the Prince finally finds the glass slipper and realizes Cinderella is the woman for him, he is immediately bombarded by political talk. In an effort to improve the lives of the people in his kingdom, he agrees to meet with the people, and even Jean-Michel announces that it's possible to talk to this prince.
With plots and subplots tightly tied into beautiful knots, all lovers find a mate and promise to live happily ever after.
In summary, I didn't really want to see this production. Now, I'm glad I did, as it's visually spectacular. The music and lyrics couldn't be better (note who wrote them). The plot is certainly more adult than what I anticipated. The performances are straight out of a fairy-tale world.
Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella will play through August 2, 2015, in the Connor Palace, in Cleveland's Play House Square. For tickets and schedule, visit broadway.playhousesquare.org. For more information on the tour, visit cinderellaonbroadway.com/tour.
Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
- David Ritchey