Total Rating: 
March 28, 2017
April 2, 2017
Associated Bank Broadway at the Marcus Center; Work Light Productions
Theater Type: 
Marcus Center for the Performing Arts
Theater Address: 
929 North Water Street
Running Time: 
2 hrs
Music and lyrics: Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II; book: Douglas Carter Bean adapting original book: Oscar Hammerstein II.
Gina Rattan, based on Mark Brokaw
Lee Wilkins

The bling and glamour of the Cinderella tour was met with cheers, oohs and ahhs, mainly by the youngsters who attended the opening of this fabled fairy-tale musical. No wonder: This version, which was adapted for Broadway in 2013, started out as a modernized version of a made-for-TV musical. Those of us who recall the original cast – with the lovely Leslie Ann Warren as Cinderella – may be shocked to imagine that this TV event debuted a half-century ago. Even now, with some slight tweaking, the heart of Cinderella is the classic rags-to-glamour story of a young girl, a wicked stepmother, a prince, a dance and a glass slipper.

Despite some moments of strong acting, the stars of this non-Equity productions are certainly the Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes, such as: “Ten Minutes Ago,” “Impossible,” “In My Own Little Corner,” and “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” Even those who have never seen the TV version might predictably be able to carry a tune to some of these titles, which have become standards. They are treated with respect by both the singers and the full-sounding pit orchestra.

Updating this version for 21st century audiences involves new lingo and new characters. For instance, when the young prince wonders what kind of man he’ll become, his older, longtime consultant advises, “fake it ‘til you make it.” In the early scenes, the college-educated prince distinguishes himself as a leader with a heart, mind and soul.

A bit less success is achieved by the two stepsisters. Although they are appropriately dowdy, gaudy, and ill-mannered, one of them forges a secret with Cinderella in the second act. She even calls Cinderella her “sister,” which of course she is, but never recognized as such in the Disney version. They spoil some of the fun by not being as nasty as they could be.

The other sister, wearing glasses (Joanna Johnson) and a frizzy wig, becomes an audience favorite. Her humor stems from her being convinced the prince will be dazzled by her presence — once he gets to know her.

But alas, the Prince (Hayden Stanes) has eyes only for Cinderella (Tatyana Lubov). When she appears in an effervescent white, full-skirt gown, she instantly becomes the talk of the ball. Stanes can’t keep his eyes off this enchanting beauty. They demonstrate some G-rated chemistry and certainly seem to be a match made in heaven.

But then midnight strikes, and — you probably know the story from here. Cinderella flees (shoes intact) as the Prince calls out to her. He never even learned her name. Meantime, the ball continues in a lovely choreographed sequence that shows off the fantastically detailed, colorful gowns by William Ivey Long. The women swirl about like mobile bouquets of flowers, all tinted in blue, orange, green, etc. The Prince decides to host a banquet for the entire community, hoping that will lure Cinderella back to the castle. It does, except this time she leaves a shoe behind.

Backing up a bit, the enchantress who turns Cinderella from a scullery maid to a princess is the enchanting Mimi Robinson. She cleverly gathers woodland creatures like raccoons, foxes and mice to become footmen and horses. A plain pumpkin becomes a golden carriage, carrying Cinderella off to the ball in style. In a nod to modern-day sensibilities, Robinson also plays a “crazy woman of the woods” whom Cinderella defends from the wandering Prince and his entourage.

There’s also a bit of social conscious thrown in for good measure. Jean-Michel (Chris Woods) is a low-key crusader for human rights, but he thankfully isn’t the focus of this oft-told tale.

Interestingly, the one-dimensional sets — featuring wings and cartoon-type cut-outs of trees, etc. — seem to be borrowed straight from the 1950s. Perhaps this “period look” was intentional, but today’s audiences have come to expect more realism, even in a fairytale.

Aside from that mere quibble, Cinderella rises to the occasion as the Prince/Cinderella romance certainly stirs the audience’s hearts. It’s also a great show for introducing young children to theater.

Tatyana Lubov (Ella); Chloe Fox, Caity Skalski (woodland creatures), Hayden Stanes (Topher, the Prince), Vincent B. Davis (Lord Pinkleton); Sarah Primmer (Madame, Ella’s stepmother); Joanna Johnson (Ella’s half-sister); Joanna Johnson (Charlotte, Ella’s other half-sister) Mimi Robinson (Gabrielle, Fairy God Mother).
Set: Anna Louizos; Costumes: William Ivey long; Lighting: Kenneth Posner; Sound: Nevin Steinberg; Music director and conductor: Charlie Reuter.
Anne Siegel
Date Reviewed: 
March 2017