BWW Review: RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA Sweeps Madison
There is a plethora of young girls in frilly dresses and tiaras here. They laugh and run. They giggle and blush. They are joyful and their parents beam with pride.
There are also many tween and young teen females wandering around. They are in notably LESS frilly dresses, yet they too, giggle and blush. The difference is that this demographic is doing their best to appear bored and dismayed at "having" to be here. They are failing as their joy shows through their façade.
This is Cinderella. I had no idea what to expect when I walked into the Overture Center, but it was not this. Admittedly I had strongly underestimated the draw of this particular show, or the effect it would have on myself and those around me. Upon being seated we watched a family of four offer to give up prime seats to a family with children so that the kids could see better. At this point I thought, "I may be in for something pretty special here". This is what Cinderella does to people. It is a tale told thousands of times before, known worldwide. Tried and true, some people would say trite and a bit stereotypical. Those people haven't seen this particular show!
In a brazen effort of full disclosure, I admit that I am not a fan of musical theater. I am un-able to suspend my disbelief that an entire village breaks out in song, or that the guards/knights/gangs all spontaneously break out in dance before or even during a battle. Now that you know where I am coming from, I could cut to the chase of this review and tell you how I felt about the show...but not so fast.
Initially the set itself drew me in. The design was functional and believable. As the lights dimmed I was in the forest. The lighting was amazing and the subtle changes helped advance the story and create the correct mood for each and every scene.
The show was engaging from the opening scene in which we meet Prince Topher (Majestically portrayed by Hayden Stanes) as he saves the day while pondering the song "Me, Who am I" and stating, "I thought I'd be doing more with my life". This set the stage for a very different Cinderella than was originally written for television in 1957.
After his tiresome deed, he serendipitously encounters the chamber maid Cinderella (Portrayed brilliantly by Our own Cinderella story, Tatyana Lubov, for further info visit; /national-tours/article/BWW-Interview-Tatyana-Lubov-A-Fairytale-Journey-to-Rogers-and-Hammersteins-CINDERELLA-20161004) while looking for a cup of water. After Topher's Chancellor Sebastian (A protective portrayal by Ryan Hunt) is rude to the chamber maid, Topher demands that he "not talk to her that way" giving us some insight into the prince's character. In this scene we are also introduced to one of my favorite characters in the show: Marie. (Magically portrayed by Leslie Jackson) She is described as "Sweet and gentle in every way. But NUTS!" It is Marie who identifies the prince for Cinderella after he has ridden away, leaving Cinderella with the great line, "He's a world leader? But he has heart and mind and a soul!" Giving us some insight in to her character.
We are now deep within this world when the bone chilling call of "CINDERELLA" reverberates throughout the theater, followed shortly by the entrance of Madam (Wickedly portrayed by Sarah Primmer) and her "real" daughters, Charlotte (Evilly Portrayed by JoAnna Johnson) and Gabrielle (Conspiratorially portrayed by Mimi Robinson). Now the fun begins!
There are new twists to this show (No I'm not telling you all of them, see the show!) and they are what makes this show new, contemporary...better!
There is Jean-Michel (a revolutionary portrayal by Chris Woods) the rabble rousing do gooder who yells the castle from across the moat, about social injustice. Who also volunteers at the local soup kitchen. Jean -Michel takes part in my favorite scene, which happens between he and Gabrielle. The comedic timing is near genius, and the subtleties of the scene draw the audience even deeper into the story.
The music is a giant part of the experience. "Impossible" to "It's Possible" is brilliantly performed and filled with inspiration. "Ten Minutes Ago" was sung beautifully and filled with emotion. (Admittedly I am still humming this as I type). The slightly anachronistic "When You're Driving Through the Moonlight" Left a dull ache in my heart and "A Lovely Night" provided us with a surprisingly happy family moment between Cinderella and her step family. This happiness was short lived as Madam begins throwing around commands again, which leads to another surprise, comradery between Cinderella and Gabrielle!
Yes, this is still Cinderella. You know the story and we take some comfort in knowing where we are being led, yet it's so much more.
This Cinderella is about peaceful revolution, being heard, and conversely, listening. It's about questioning how things work and finding the answers sometimes in books, and sometimes in friends. It's about the prince, who through his own vulnerability finds himself, and his subjects find respect for him, and this was all due to one little chamber maid who took it upon herself to change her lot in life and save herself. A little chamber maid named, Cinderella.
Subscriptions and individual tickets for the Madison engagement of Rodgers + Hammerstein's CINDERELLA are on sale now in person at the Overture Center ticket office at 201 State Street, online at overture.org or by phone at 608.258.4141. Tickets for groups of 10 or more available by calling 608.258.4159.
Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wisconsin features seven state-of-the-art performance spaces and five galleries where national and international touring artists, ten resident companies, and hundreds of local artists engage nearly half a million people in educational and artistic experiences each year.
Broadway Across America is part of The John Gore Organization family of companies, which includes Broadway.com, under the supervision of John Gore (Owner & CEO). Current and past productions include On Your Feet!, Fiddler on the Roof, Shuffle Along, Beautiful, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Quartet, Hairspray, and The Producers. BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com.
For tickets to this or any future show visit the Overture Center at http://www.overture.org/