Archikulture Digest

Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

CFCArts presented at Fashion Square Mall

Music by Richard Rodgers

Book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

Directed and choreographed by Shana Burns

Musical Direction by Mark Procopio

Orlando FL </b>

When TV appeared, optimists thought it would bring culture to the masses. Instead we got game shows and embarrassing sitcoms. But one well intentioned attempt at “art” came in 1957 when Rogers and Hammerstein we commissioned by CBS to create a musical just for the small screen. The “Cinderella” fairy tale became the project: It was clean, well known, and had no difficult copywrite issues. But musical theater and TV never when far beyond that one bad date, but the script was later expanded to two hours. Set in the more natural environment of a nearly extinct shopping mall, this show is a wonderful romp for adults and kids alike. Many years ago, a friend pointed out “Theater exists in the small space between where the rent is cheap enough to afford, and the neighborhood safe enough to bring the patrons.” That’s the Fashion Square space.

Here’s the skinny: Pushover King Topher (short for Christopher, played by Chase Williams) is lonely and wants a date. His oily minster Sebastian (Clint Steadman) controls access to the king as he strips privileges of the unprivileged serfs. The slightly anachronistic Jean Michelle (Kyle Meehan) fights for political rights for the the under privileged, and evil mother Madam (Stacey DeCosmo) preps her two older and nastier daughters Charlotte (Victoria Narvaez) and Gabriella (Tori Lucas) for the prom. But a Fairy Godmother (Stacey DeCosmo) fixes thing up, and some pixie dust provides Ella with a fashionable dress complete with glass slippers, dangerous as that may seem. None of these small town Balkan women seem terribly appealing as over dressed gold diggers and well-off wanabees, they all disgust or at least bore Toper. But in fairy tales all the poor girls have Fairly Godmothers and if you can’t get into the party on money, you can get in with a little hocus pocus. Cinderella plays hard to get, a good choice, and she appears and disappear to Toper as he rallies his troops to find Cinderella. After a few more good songs, the king gets some spine, the minster backs off, Mr. Hippy gets his own soup kitchen and Cindy gets the guy. He may be mousey, but it is good to be king, or at least married to one.

Besides a good ending and decent acting, the staging was very impressive complete with an actor-drawn carriage. The costumes recalled the good old days of Louis the 14th, and the sound was very clear. Ahead of me sat a young lady, enthralled the whole evening. True, this is a fluffy romance with lots of nonsensical plot twists, but it brings out the best in theater: spectacle, humor, and singers that can hit the note and hold their vibrato. While the parking garage is eerie and the mall a sad reflection of the 1980’s, give this show a spin around the old ballroom dance floor. It’s a grand piece, too good for television.

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