BWW Review: CINDERELLA Slips Into New Shoes Full of Possibility at the Ohio Theatre
Once upon a time in 1957 there was a helpless young damsel who toiled tirelessly in rags while her cruel stepmother and self-centered stepsisters forced her into a life of servitude. One day, however, her Prince Charming swept her off her feet and she lived happily ever after, all with the help of a fairy godmother and a glass slipper left behind. Fast forward. It's now 2016 and gone are the days when a meek would-be princess sits around waiting for her prince to come, let alone even thinking about leaving a Venetian glass slipper behind.
With a fresh new take on the beloved classic, Rodgers + Hammerstein's new CINDERELLA stage adaptation (based on a new book by Douglas Carter Beane) combines the basic elements of the original yet adds in modern-day twists. The balance is brilliant -- Spirited, savvy young woman who still lives in a house of drudgery, yet confidently searches for her own happiness with compassion, kindness, and forgiveness. Not only does she ultimately get the man (prince), but she also spearheads a new effort of political change within the entire village. Talk about modern day girl power!
Tatyana Lubov slips perfectly into the role of Cinderella with just the right balance of grace, humility and fortitude to pursue her dreams. She is honest, appealing, and has a voice that gloriously soars, whether she performs with her counterpart, in full ensemble, or she's "In (her) Own Little Corner."
Hayden Stanes is boyishly lovable as the handsome Prince Topher, and portrays the role with an earnest energy and adroit comedic timing. Although he comes across as awkward at times, Stanes's song, "Me, Who Am I" (originally written for Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1953 musical, ME AND JULIET) proves that he has the intensity and power of a true prince. Together with Lubov, they share a genuine chemistry and add depth and beauty to the songs, "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful," "Ten Minutes Ago," and "A Lovely Night," evoking lush, expressive emotion.
Forest beggar woman turned Fairy Godmother, Leslie Jackson, makes a spellbinding transformation and has an inspiring, powerful voice when she sings "There's Music in You" (a new song included in the score).
The step-family, Madame (Sarah Primmer), Charlotte (JoAnna Johnson), and Gabrielle (Mimi Robinson) aren't as evil as the original version, which is a welcome, enjoyable change. They deliver some hilarious one-liners and eventually come to recognize their own mistakes (all thanks to the kindness of Cinderella). JoAnna Johnson as Charlotte nearly steals the show with a feisty and entertaining "Stepsister's Lament," but all are equally talented in their own role.
Like the Fairy Godmother, Cinderella's transformation is simply awe-inspiring as we witness her metamorphosis right before our very eyes, thanks to the ingenuity and brilliance of Tony Award winning costume designer, William Ivey Long. The majestic scenic design by Anna Louizos and spellbinding lighting by Kenneth Posner are both visually exquisite with set pieces transitioning seamlessly, just as you would turn the pages of a book. The full orchestra under the stellar direction of music director Charlie Reuter delivers Rodgers + Hammerstein's lush and lavish score and captivates the audience with magical possibilities. The choreography is fluid and graceful and adds to the glamour of the production.
This new production of CINDERELLA maintains the dreamy, enchanting romanticism of the classic fairy tale while giving purpose and meaning to the classic heroine who stands up for herself and defends the less fortunate. As Marilyn Monroe once said, "Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she'll conquer the world."
The National Tour of CINDERELLA is playing at the Ohio Theatre for a limited engagement through November 27, 2016. Tickets start at $29 and can be purchased at the CAPA Ticket Center (39 E. State St.), all Ticketmaster outlets, and online at www.ticketmaster.com. To purchase by phone, please call (800) 745-3000. Orders for groups of 20 or more may be placed by calling (614) 719-6900.