The CINDERELLA Files: Alli Mauzey
High-spirited and vivacious, Alli Mauzey is the first to admit that she's not usually cast as the ingenue - although she's certainly not complaining about the roles she's done thus far. But this Friday night, in a very special concert presentation in Nashville, Mauzey will play the ingenue of all ingenues: Cinderella.
Accompanied by the award-winning musicians of the Nashville Symphony, Mauzey and a cast of Broadway stars and some of Nashville's best actors will bring Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella to magical life at David Lipscomb University's Allen Arena for showHOPE, the international adoption charity founded by contemporary Christian music superstar Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth Chapman.
The altogether charming and amazingly talented Mauzey claims an impressive theatrical resume, which includes her starmaking turn in Cry-Baby, the Broadway musical based on the John Waters film, that resulted in a 2008 Theatre World Award, as well as a Drama League Award nomination. She's also had roles in both Wicked and Hairspray - two of the musicals that have helped define the first decade of the new millennium in Broadway terms - playing Glinda in Wicked (a role she'll play again later this year in San Francisco) and Brenda in Hairspray.
Now her involvement in showHOPE's first spring celebration finds her in Music City USA, rehearsing at breakneck speed in anticipation of Friday's performance. "I came into town last Friday and we started rehearsals on Saturday morning," she says during her lunch break on Tuesday. "Most of the cast is here, with a couple more of the principals arriving Wednesday. I can't wait for Friday night's performance!"
Rehearsals, she is very happy to report, "are going well; this is a very quick process and we will be off-book, so it's definitely hard work, but I'm having such fun working with this cast."
So what do her castmates have to say about Mauzey? "She's hilarious," says Nashville theatre stalwart Carolyn German, who plays Cinderella's stepsister Joy. "I wish you could have seen Alli's alternate ending for act one during rehearsal today. We've been laughing so much, it's hard to stay focused on the fact that it's work!"
Yet another insider report from rehearsals predicts that audiences will be especially taken with Cinderella's musical duets with Prince Christopher, played by Anthony Fedorov the fourth season American Idol finalist who is gaining notoriety as a musical theatre leading man.
With an abbreviated rehearsal schedule, Mauzey (along with co-stars Heather Headley, Jodi Benson, Anthony Fedorov, Jake Speck, Bebe Winans and an ensemble featuring a who's who of Nashville's best talents) says "we're definitely on the fast track: We're doing a full-fledged production in a matter of a few days. It's awesome to be playing Cinderella," she contends. "You know, usually I don't play the ingenue - I usually get to play the really fun character parts - so this is a full little change, a definite departure, for me, to play the ultimate ingenue: Cinderella."
Being asked to play Cinderella was kind of serendipitous, she admits. "Jake Speck [the Nashville native who now plays Bob Gaudio in the Broadway company of Jersey Boys and who plays Lionel in showHOPE's Cinderella) and I are friends and we used to go to church together in New York City. We keep in touch every once in a while and about six months ago, when I was in New York, we ran into each other and sort of re-connected."
Shortly thereafter, Speck emailed Mauzey and asked her if she'd like to be part of the star-studded cast that's bringing Cinderella to life in Nashville this weekend. "Jake asked if I would be interested and told me more about showHOPE and the work the Chapmans are doing and so I said I'd love to come to Nashville and do the show."
The work to which she refers is the Chapman's worldwide showHOPE charity that provides support to people seeking to adopt children. In 2009, showHOPE awarded its 2000th grant and during its history, the organization has affected the lives of children from 41 different countries and the United States. Originally named after the Chapmans' first adopted daughter, Shaohannah 's Hope, showHOPE assists families in the adoption process, particularly by tearing down the financial barriers that often prevents many of them from bringing an adopted child into their home. In addition to giving financial grants, showHOPE helps to empower families, churches and communities with adoption and orphan care resources and advocacy efforts.
The concert version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about Cinderella dramatically and musically represents the showHOPE story, Mauzey contends. "Cinderella doesn't have her parents anymore and she's kind of an orphan, despite her stepmother and stepsisters, and she just wants to be loved - who doesn't want that? - so through her journey, she has a higher power - in her case, her fairy godmother - who is looking after her, helping her fulfill her dreams."
Mauzey likens Cinderella's circuitous journey to happiness and fulfillment to the journey every orphaned child must travel to find a forever family. "For these orphans, they need families to fulfill their dreams and showHOPE helps to facilitate their dreams coming true, just like Cinderella's fairy godmother helps her to realize hers. Like Cinderella and her fairy godmother, showHOPE helps adoptive parents and orphans go to the ball and to realize their dreams."
Alli Mauzey continues to pursue her own dreams in the theatre. After her trip to Nashville to play the ultimate ingenue, she'll return to Los Angeles where she'll do a review of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical hits, then she's off to San Francisco to play the role of Glinda once more in Wicked, during the final months of the musical's run there.
But what about Glinda, aka Galinda, isn't she the very picture of an ingenue? "Well, Glinda's a little more quirky than the typical princess type of ingenue, so she's closer to the type of character I am usually cast as...I always say, 'give me a blond wig and I can pull her off!'"
Cinderella will be presented at David Lipscomb University's Allen Arena on Friday, May 14, at 7 p.m. Ticket prices range from $30 to $130 and are available at the Allen Arena box office, online at www.showhope.org or by calling (615) 966-7075.