Written by Richard Rodgers (music)
A sweet fairy tale come to life
|Marriott Theatre presents|
Review by K.D. Hopkins
This is the production of Cinderella that I grew up watching, all the while wondering what happened to the Grimm version with all of the hacked off toes and heels to fit into the shoe. I was a strange child who enjoyed the cautionary morality tales where good always wins and evil ends up with its head literally at the grindstone. That being said, there is something about the music and the glittering magic of Rodgers and Hammerstein that makes it worth another view. It worked in 1966 and it works now.
Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences created a lovely rendition of this classic tale. It is produced in the round, and every seat is a good one. The audience is full of very young children, and I tell you this for one reason – be prepared. They don’t all sit still or stay quiet, but it is for them and not the grown up kids like me.
Cinderella (Dara Cameron) is a sweet and innocent princess-to-be. Cameron has a dulcet soprano that blends beautifully with Brian Bohr’s (Prince Christopher) fine tenor. There is some updating on the characters in this Marriott version: the prince has a name, as do several other characters who were formerly just caricatures. The stepsisters are now Joy (Ericka Mac) and Portia (Kelley Abell). The Stepmother (Iris Lieberman) has aspirations other than getting her daughters married. Joy is supposed to be charming and witty and Portia, named after a character in The Merchant of Venice, is on the lawyer track. I don’t find this to be necessary, as the original story has already been cleaned up to not make children frightened. I suppose it is equally frightening to bring back the economic necessity of a woman needing a husband to survive.
Mac and Abell are perfect as the squabbling stepsisters. They are good meanies and yet not too evil. Both actresses have a command of physical comedy which is put to great use when the Herald (George Keating) has to try the glass slipper on their feet. It looks like an illustration out of a book when Mac throws her dress up to reveal a petticoat and Abell does the same. Nothing ladylike or delicate about these stepsisters. Keating reacts hilariously for both the petticoat exposure and the assumed stinky feet.
The love story is well known, but the story of the King (Rob Rahn) and Queen (Stephanie Binetti) is shown as well. They are portrayed as a normal couple who happen to have a castle and a prince who needs to be married. The King chafes at the cost of the bill for a ball and the Queen doesn’t give a pooh-pooh for the cost. The tender moments between Bohr and Rahn are sweet, revealing the King to be more of a romantic than the Queen. Binetti is loving as the mother who cautions her son that he may never find the mystery woman.
The production values in this show are impressive, with seamless entrances and prop changes. The lights go down for the magic of the carriage and former mice, now footmen, to appear – all while Cinderella is transformed into a princess by her Fairy Godmother (Susan Moniz). There is another update in the story for modern audiences: Cinderella knows her Fairy Godmother in this version. (It’s not just Celeste Holm showing up in a cloud of glitter and introducing herself.)
The production is kept to about an hour and 15 minutes, which is perfect for the attention spans of the under 10 set. I am proud to say that my guest Elina Sofia was very attentive and respective of the show. She liked it very much as she is at the “let’s play princess and I will be the princess” stage. So her contribution to this review is that she recommends this show as does her Auntie Kat. There is also a pretty cool Q&A after the show to explain some of the magic of theater to the young audience.
Cinderella continues through December 31st at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Lane, Lincolnshire (map), with most shows running Tuesday through Saturday at 10am. Tickets are $15, and are available by phone (847-634-0200) or online through their website (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at MarriottTheatre.com. (Running time: 75 minutes without intermission)
Photos by Peter Coombs
Dara Cameron (Cinderella); Brian Bohr (Prince); Ericka Mac (Joy); Kelley Abell (Portia); Susan Moniz (Fairy Godmother); Stephanie Binetti (Queen); Rob Rahn (King); Iris Lieberman (Stepmother); George Keating (Herald); Stephen Schellhardt, Jameson Cooper, Alexandra Palkovic (Ensemble)
behind the scenes
Andy Hite (artistic director); Matt Raftery (director, choreographer); Ryan Nelson (musical director); Robert Gilmartin (sound design); Nancy Missimi (costume design); Jesse Klug, Greg Hoffman (lighting design); Cassy Schillo (props); Patti Garwood (conductor, musical supervisor); Peter Coombs (photos)