BWW Review: CINDERELLA at The Playhouse - A Lavish, Luxurious Production Fit For Any Age!
This is not the CINDERELLA from our childhood. Wise people reconfigured the fantasy tale into a lavish contemporary production that coalesced with gorgeous and stunning technical aspects fashioning this a memorable theatrical experience for any age.
Opening night, it was sweet to see a gaggle of 6 year olds in their too cute Cinderella outfits but I submit Mom and Dad enjoyed the performance as much as these darlings.
The set design by many times Tony nominee Anna Louizos were ravishing in their creative architecture. Cinderella's gold and silver carriage was in itself a sight to behold. (Louizos did design for IN THE HEIGHTS and we all know the genius of Lin Manuel Miranda). Costumes were conceived by Broadway icon William Ivey Long who has left his mark on now 65 Broadway shows. The gowns are as enchanting as the story and touch every pastel in the pallet. They swirled with absolute grace in the ballroom waltz. It is one thing to make a beautiful gown. It is another to make it dance with such effortlessness. That scene, in a word, is breathtaking.
And then, going back to the foundation, we have a melodic score from R&H. "Ten Minutes Ago" and "In My Own Little Corner" became popular standards, but the rest of the score is undeniably hummable. Standing O's would de rigueur for the technical and musical side alone.
The dialogue has been revised well past the carboard characters we remember as Cinderella and The Prince. Both have grit and substance. Cinderella says to The Prince (now named Topher) "I must tell you what's happening in your kingdom". She tells her sarcastic stepsisters, "Kindness is a virtue. You might try it"! (ba boom!)
The leads, Topher (Hayden Stanes), Cinder(Ella), Tatyana Lubov and The Fairy Godmother (now Marie) (Leslie Jackson) have gorgeous, soaring voices. One was mesmerized by Marie is her duets with Ella, "Impossible" and "It's Possible".
The production did not lose the 'magical' quality we comfortably recall as children. The audience experienced a collective jaw drop when Marie the Beggar transformed into Marie The Fairy Godmother and when Ella - in full view - went from her humble threads into a shimmering gown.
The antagonism and down-right meanness of the stepsisters is replaced by humor. You may have heard that the cross-dressing Melissa McCarthy made headlines recently. Charlotte (JoAnna Johnson) is the Melissa McCarthy of CINDERELLA. What a stitch! The other sister Gabrielle (Sarah Primmer) teamed with Charlotte in their own moment "A Lovely Night". They too are portrayed as real human beings with their own aspirations, although, alas, their tootsies did not fit snugly in the slipper. Sad. Unfair!
First impressions are important. At the instance Aisle Say saw the very tight choreography by the ensemble in the opening "Me, Who Am I", he knew he was in for a production that stands equivalent to the best that Broadway has to offer. Original choreographer is Josh Rhodes who had previously been nominated for Astaire Award and Drama Desk honors.
This has been a wonderful season at The Playhouse.
Through Feb 12 ThePlayHouseDE.org 800.37.GRAND
Next up is RIVERDANCE on Feb 21, PIPPIN on Mar 7 and the season closes with ONCE on Mar 31