Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella
by Carl F. Gauze
Music by Richard Rogers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
New Book by Douglas Carter Bean
Original Book by Oscar Hammerstein II
Directed by Steve MacKinnon
Choreographed by Myles Thoroughgood
Starring Sarah Anne May, Tay Anderson, and Zoa Glows
Have you heard this story before? We visit a kingdom where peasants beg for food, crooked ministers run the government, and the middle class is squeezed from both sides and forced to marry off a daughter for a steady income. In other words, a classic children’s tale with music by Rogers and Hammerstein. It’s a beautifully told tale set on a clever set with spectacular writing, top notch choreography, and gowns suitable for Harriet Lake. Our dancing king is Topher, (short for Christopher, played by Zoa Glow). He’s dashing, well intentioned, but a bit naïve. And he needs to marry for dynastic reasons as always. Topher’s naivety is polished and groomed by his first minster Sebastian (Pugh). Sebastian literally has the keys to the kingdom, and he knows what to do with them. Radical Jean-Michael (Jose Rivera) wears strange cloths, wants people to do what the Bible says and gasp! He plans to feed the poor and operate the country as an Anarcho-Syndicalist Commune. Good for him! Then there’s our lead, Ella (Mae), who does the dirty work, takes out the trash, and serves as the household kicking girl. Her status seeking mom Madame (Tay Anderson) is laser focused and marrying royally well for her oldest, maybe a nunnery for daughter #2, and little Cinderella, well, she’s the house maid and kicking butt for the household. This looks like a job for Fairy Godmother!
While this story is a bit of a chestnut, its tightly written and gets across more than a few adult points of discussion. And that to me is the pinnacle of a goods children show: the kids sit entranced while Mom and Dad are enlightened, or at least forced to think a bit. There’s a good bit of quality stagecraft as well, not only does the set look like a castle hosting a wedding, but the peasant scenes are just gritty enough to point up the status of the downtrodden, the dirt LOOKS authentic. We even get a pair of puppets animals to spice up act 2, and how can you not love a puppet furry creature. Overall, I rank this with the best shows I’ve seen this year, and as a cranky old critic, I was never bored. Imagine how much more fun this could be for a young woman in love with castles?