BWW Review: RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA at Work Light Productions, A Lovely Night of Theatre
A little after the clock struck on the half hour, the national touring production of Cinderella began. At the top of show, puppetry ensues with a massive praying mantis taking center stage that is eventually defeated by Prince Topher, played by Lukas James Miller. Then the audience quickly understands that we are in for one magical night of folderol and fiddle dee that somehow becomes entirely possible live on stage. From start to finish, the fairytale is richly presented with wonderfully well-cast performers, delightful performances, and gorgeous classic music and lyrics by the famed writing team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.
As the show progresses, leading lady Kaitlyn Mayse (Cinderella) dreams of escaping her circumstances by singing the celebrated musical theatre song 'In My Own Little Corner' which was appropriately staged by tour director Gina Rattan, with most of the action taking place in the corner of stage right. It's the evilness, however, of Madame (Sarah Smith), Cinderella's step-mother and Sebastian (Christopher Swan), who both decide to distract Topher with a wedding to find his future princess despite what seems to be happening to the townspeople's land. Thus, it is announced that 'The Prince is Giving a Ball' overpoweringly sung by lyrical tenor Carlos Morales, who plays Lord Pinkletown, and danced astonishingly well by the strong ensemble with invitations to the ball in hand.
Cinderella, still dreaming by the cinders of the fireplace, is met by beggar woman Marie (Zina Ellis). A Yale University graduate, Ellis is strong in her singing technique and executing quick costume changes taking place right on stage. In fact, it is because of the master magicians and genius thinking of costume designer William Ivey Long and set designer Anna Louizos that make it entirely possible for a peasant girl to go to a ball and a pumpkin to become a carriage. Leading the way to the castle are a back-flipping duo of a fox and raccoon played by Beth Anderson and Kaylene Snarsky. Once arriving to the masquerade, a single violin tenderly hushes the audience, transitioning into another classic title song 'Ten Minutes Ago' sung here by Miller and Mayse. Waltzing and singing around candle-lit candelabras, the entire cast submerses spectators into iconic and romantic musical theatre.
Once the entr'acte starts, we are re-introduced to the comedic timing of Natalie Girard (Gabrielle) and Joanna Johnson (Charlotte), especially during 'Stepsister's Lament.' Johnson is brilliant in her delivery whose boisterous growl matches her fantastic figure and voice. Girard's physicality and character expression makes one wonder if she acted out cartoons growing up. Even actor Nic Casaula matches Girard's delivery and profound enunciation as love interest Jean-Michel.
Overall, it was a lovely night of theatre. I brought my mother with me, who played the fairy godmother in her high school production. I glanced over at her from time to time, and I just beamed as she hummed and quietly sang the legendary tunes. She, like the godmother on stage, made me realize that there is music in me. After the show was over, she thanked me for taking her, and commented that the show brought back wonderful memories, and was nothing short of exceptional. Personally, I wanted to cheer but did not want to be recognized as a musical theatre nerd, or a silent yet honest reviewer. The themes of the show, such as believing in yourself, made it sincerely moving, as were the thoughtful three little words Cinderella says to her step-mother at the conclusion of the production. Be sure to listen closely to them and apply them to your own life. Mayse, a true working professional, made her dream come true by playing a girl's dream role, and changing the world in which we live in by doing so.
To find out if this national tour is visiting a city near you, visit www.worklightproductions.comfor more information.