BWW Reviews: RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center
Based upon the fairy tale Cinderella, particularly the French version Cendrillon, ou la Petite Pantoufle de Verre, by Charles Perrault. The story concerns a young woman forced into a life of servitude by her cruel stepmother, who dreams of a better life. With the help of her Fairy Godmother, Cinderella is transformed into an elegant young lady and is able to attend the ball to meet her Prince but in this version, she must open the Prince's eyes to the injustice in his kingdom.
Rodgers and Hammerstein originally wrote the musical for a live television broadcast starring Julie Andrews, which was seen by over 107 million viewers when it first debuted on CBS on March 31st, 1957. It was then remade twice for television and adapted for the stage in various versions prior to the Broadway production. The production premiered on Broadway on March 3rd, 2013, nominated for 9 Tony Awards (including Best Revival of a Musical). The new book by Tony-Nominated playwright Douglas Carter Beane introduces several new characters and a sympathetic stepsister, and the score features additional songs all from the Rodgers & Hammerstein catalogue.
The touring production currently playing at Durham Performing Arts Center through November 23rd seems to be very well supported by a smart book by Douglas Carter Beane. What he's been able to accomplish is giving the audience a fresh, funny, and relevant approach to the Cinderella story we've all been hearing over the years, even including the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein romantic subplot.
Paige Faure in the title role perfectly embodies the young lady with the kindest heart. Andy Jones is also perfectly cast as Prince Topher, the prince in need of a bit of guidance and inspiration to realize his full potential. The two very charming lead performances really make you care about both their characters as the evening goes on.
Other standouts in the cast include Beth Glover as Madame, Ella's vain and tyrannical stepmother; Kecia Lewis as Marie, the showstopping Fairy Godmother; Blake Hammond as Sebastian, Topher's Lord Chancellor; Antoine L. Smith as Lord Pinkleton, Sebastian's second-in-command and herald for all important events; David Andino as Jean-Michel, the poor revolutionary with many ideas about how to improve society; Ashley Park (soon-to-be seen as Tuptim in Lincoln Center's upcoming Broadway revival of The King & I) as Gabrielle, Ella's caring stepsister; Aymee Garcia as Charlotte, Ella's other (yet clownish) stepsister.
Wonderfully staged by director Mark Brokaw; precisely choreographed by Josh Rhodes; colorfully lit by lighting designer Kenneth Posner; some interesting set designs by Anna Louizos; amazing costume designs by Six-Time Tony-Winner (and North Carolina native) William Ivey Long. As I would describe in the words of Oscar Hammerstein II, this version of Cinderella is 'Some Enchanted Evening'!
For more information regarding the national tour, please visit http://www.cinderellaonbroadway.com/tour/ to see if it's coming to a city near you!