BWW Review: RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA at Paper Mill Playhouse-An Elegant Treasure to Behold and Enjoy
"In the name of every girl who has wanted to change the world......"
by Marie in Cinderella
Paper Mill Playhouse is now presenting an elegant, charming production of Rodgers+Hammerstein's Cinderella. The show is expertly directed by the Playhouse's Producing Artistic Director, Mark S. Hoebee with stunning choreographies by JoAnn M. Hunter and superb musical direction by Michael Borth. Unforgettable performances by the stellar cast are complemented by the show's lavish costumes and sets.
Cinderella features music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, a new book by Douglas Carter Beane, and the original book by Oscar Hammerstein II. The Paper Mill Playhouse production succeeds in taking this timeless classic to new heights by incorporating relevant messages about social responsibility, inclusion, love, and forgiveness. We attended the opening night performance where the rapt audience enjoyed every moment of the show.
Based on historic tales, Cinderella tells the story of Ella, a thoughtful and kind young woman whose situation seem dire as she is made to work for her unkind stepmother, Madame and serve her stepsisters Charlotte and Gabrielle. There is great excitement in the kingdom when a ball for Prince Topher is announced, a party that has been planned by the chancellor, Sebastian to find a wife for the future king. When Crazy Marie unexpectedly becomes Cinderella's fairy godmother, she magically transforms the country girl into a vision of beauty so that she may attend the ball; but the magic will only last until midnight. Although Cinderella beguiles the prince, she must leave quickly and he becomes desperate to find her. Prince Topher must also deal with unrest in the kingdom where activist, Jean-Michel and the townspeople want to be treated fairly. The heartwarming tale proves that goodness overcomes adversity and that dreams really do come true. Rodgers+Hammerstein's Cinderella is the quintessential feel-good story full of action, romance, and humor. It is ideal entertainment for the holiday season.
The cast is performance perfection. It features Ashley Blanchet who commands the stage as Ella. She is joined by a gifted company that includes Billy Harrigan Tighe as Prince Topher; Donna English as Marie; Rose Hemingway as Gabrielle; Dee Hoty as Madame; Andrew Koberas Jean-Michel; Angel Lin as Charlotte; Christopher Sieber as Sebastian; and Michael Wayne Wordly as Lord Pinkleton.
The talented ensemble brings the show's vibrant and elaborate scenes to life with exciting music and dance sequences. They include John Barsoian, Kelly Berman, Antonio Beverly, Erin Burniston, Monica Cioffi, Taeler Cyrus, Richard Gatta, Ricky Loftus George, Christopher M. Howard, Derek Luscutoff, Kate Marilley, John Peterson, Dave Schoonover, Cynthia Thorne, Leslie Blake Walker, Isabella Ward, CorBen Williams and Minami Yusui.
Enthralling scenes abound in the show including Prince Topher slaying giants and dragons; Jean-Michel's flirtations with Gabrielle; Crazy Marie transforming into the lovely fairy godmother, Marie; Madame getting her daughters ready for the ball; Charlotte's comical and clumsy attempts to woo the prince; Ella's graceful arrival to the ball; Prince Topher and his soldiers searching for Ella; the royal banquet; and of course, the fitting of the glass slipper.
Audiences will be swept away by the score that includes gorgeous Rodgers and Hammerstein songs like "My Own Little Corner" by Ella; "The Prince is Giving a Ball" by Pinkleton, Madame, Charlotte, Gabrielle, Ella, Marie and the Crowd; "It's Possible" by Marie and Ella; "Ten Minutes Ago" by Topher and Ella; "A Lovely Night" by Ella, Madame, Charlotte and Gabrielle; and "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful" by Topher and Ella. The show also has beautiful orchestrations that include the "Cinderella March" and "Waltz for a Ball."
We applaud the Production Team that has brought the show to the Millburn Stage with scenic design by Anna Louizos; costume design by William Ivey Long; costume coordination by Tom Beall; lighting design by Charlie Morrison; sound design by Matt Kraus; and hair and wig design by Paul Huntley. The Production Stage Manager is Andrea Cibelli. Casting is by Telsey + Company, Lauren Harris, CSA.
Be enchanted! Rodgers+Hammerstein's Cinderella is a must-see show for young and old alike. Put it on your December entertainment schedule, gather your group and see it with friends and family. You'll surely love it.
Rodgers+Hammerstein's Cinderella will be performed through Sunday evening, December 29, 2019, at Paper Mill Playhouse (22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, NJ). For tickets and more information, please visit: https://papermill.org/ or call (973) 376-4343.
Photo Credits: Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade and Jerry Dalia