The story of Cinderella is all about magic and the production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical at the IU Auditorium was magical. The characters were vivid, the staging imaginative and full of surprises, the music beautidfully served by cast and orchestra. Small puppets were a real hit with the audience. Cinderella was comforted and supported by a loyal bird, a faithful cat and five of the cutest little mice imaginable.
The dialogue of “Cinderella” has been touched up and successfully brought up to date. It’s only after Cinderella has stood up for herself and vowed to get to the ball on her own, that the Fairy Godmother is willing to step in and help. This version doesn’t skimp on the familiar hits like “In My Own Little Corner” and “Ten Minutes Ago,” but it borrows the song, “The Sweetest Sounds,” from Rogers and Hammerstein’s “No Strings.” “The Sweetest Sounds” fit perfectly as the Prince and Cinderella explore their romantic hopes.
Kirsten Rossi was pathetically lovely as the poor servant Cinderella in the house and radiantly beautiful in her appearance at the ball. Jeff Scot Carey was charming in his naivte as the Prince who wants to find love on his own despite the pressures of politics.
Koshka Raenelle was both motherly and sassily up to date at the Fair Godmother. Danielle Thomas and Michael Shiles had great comic timing as the Queen and King… the Prince’s concerned parents. Maureen Illmensee was larger than life as the nasty stepmother. J. Coutney Taylor was Joy, the daughter who brays like a donkey when she laughs. Tia N’Deye Jennings was Grace, the daughter who starts scratching, everywhere, whenever she gets nervous. DeMond B. Nason was the much put upon factotum Lionel.
Fancy lighting, special effects and some neat set changes were very much a part of the drama. I’ll bet that the rest of the audience was as mystified as I was at just how they made Cinderella’s transformation from rags to radiance for the ball and then back to rags when the clock strikes twelve.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” has been a hit with audiences since its first appearance on television is 1957 and it was certainly a hit last night. . It’s delightful to see it in a version that has plenty of the original values with some creative new twists. By the way, I know that booster seats are a controversial item in the legislature, but they would have helped more than a few of the enthusiastic younger members of the audience.
“Cinderella” plays at the IU Auditorium this evening at the “family friendly time” of seven-thirty.