June 1 – 24, 2007
|The timeless enchantment of a magical fairy tale is reborn with the Rodgers & Hammerstein hallmarks of originality, charm and elegance. Originally presented on television in 1957 starring Julie Andrews, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA was the most widely viewed program in the history of the medium. Its recreation in 1965 starring Lesley Ann Warren was no less successful in transporting a new generation to the miraculous kingdom of dreams-come-true, and so was a second remake in 1997, which starred Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as her Fairy Godmother. As adapted for the stage, with great warmth and more than a touch of hilarity, the hearts of children and adults alike still soar when the slipper fits.
|The Royal Chef
|Asst. Producer/Musical Director
Cinderella shares the spotlight in Villagers production
Home News Tribune Online 06/5/07
By BILL ZAPCIC
The curious thing about the book for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” is that there really is no principal character. Sure, the audience intends to root for Cindy to win the hand of the prince, but the string of scenes gives any number of people center stage at any given point in the play. And that’s a good thing.
Because the R&H version, being performed by The Villagers Theatre in Franklin, was written for television, it crams a lot of action into two hours while skimming over the backstory that people in every culture on earth already know.
“Cinderella” starts with the truly world-famous story of the orphaned young beauty who, for one night, breaks free of the servitude her step-family forced her into.
Then “Cinderella” levels the playing field by giving the stepmother and stepsisters the spotlight. They badger Cinderella (Lauren Renahan) into getting them ready for the prince’s ball. She, meanwhile, is merely wistful, and seems resigned to the notion that she is not suited to attending. There’s none of the being locked in the tower or some such imprisonment a la Disney.
Prince Christopher (Michael Miguel), fresh from his studies abroad, hopes he will find his true love on the ballroom floor. King Maximillian (Wesley Loon) and Queen Constantina (Janice Mazza) are confident he will. Their scenes together are heartfelt and musically among the best in the show. Mazza’s voice is a gift.
The stepmother and stepsisters (Valerie Doran, Amy Toporek and Jessica Pfeiffer) are not cruel, just demanding, petty and selfish. The stepmother even has a touch of realism in her ridiculous delusions of grandeur, advising her daughters to consider using their brains to attract a suitable husband should their looks fail to snag a man. This is one of the subtle valuable lessons the plot puts forth.
Fairy Godmother (Dannyelle Zywan) is another quirkily drawn character; she uses reverse psychology to draw Cinderella out of her funk and make her believe in miracles. For much of her scenes, Godmother makes it seem she won’t deliver any coaches or horses or beautiful gowns. But fear not.
The show does climax with a Happily Ever After.
Zywan as Godmother is a hoot. She plays the character as if the fairy forgot she has magical powers, with kind of an “Oh yeah, that’s right, I can do that” lackadaisical tone. It makes the godmother all the more endearing.
Doran is strong and clannish, a mother goose who protects only her own goslings with wings flapping and beaks hissing.
Toporek and Pfeiffer play the buffoons with Lucy-Ethel comic timing. Their “Stepsisters’ Lament” number is a well-done showstopper.
Miguel sings with bell-clear tones and clarity and has great focus.
Renahan grows steadily from the first act through the conclusion; she works with a thinly written character and stays true to the authors’ intent, though the characterization makes her seem listless early on. Her voice is lovely and listenable.
Director Matthew DiCarlo uses the imaginatively appointed stage space well, though having the two extra ballroom couples in “Ten Minutes Ago” is distracting and annoying. Cindy and the prince can hold the stage themselves just fine.