The version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is currently playing at The Fabulous Fox in St. Louis, December 28-31, 2017. This Cinderella has been updated by Douglas Carter Beane from Hammerstein’s original book. Some of the original songs have been cut, without a problem. The emphasis on characters has changed, and new themes introduced. In particular, the stepsisters are now kinder and gentler. One has a love interest now, and bonds as a true sister to Cinderella. The other is just plain hilariously funny. The stepmother (Sarah Smith) is redeemed. Why? Because this show is about kindness. Kindness to each other, the villagers, and Cinderella’s kindness to everyone. In several vignettes, we see kindness and forgiveness emphasized, and “that’s a good thing.”
It is magic. I know this because last night we were surrounded by families who had taken their mini-Cinderellas to see this performance. They were two miniature Disney Cinderellas sitting next to us (guessing age 4 and 5) who sat on their grandparent’s knees, holding scepters, in rapt attention to every word and song, until past their normal bedtime. Although the 4 yr old next to us was disappointed not to hear “Bibbi-Bobbi-Boo” (her words), she still loved it!
The Magic: The Costume Design, designed by theater icon William Ivey Long, is exactly right. Each character is perfect, the ball dresses are amazing, and there are three (count ’em, THREE) costume transformations for Cinderella (beautiful, musical, and kind as played by Tatyana Lubov and the Fairy Godmother, Marie, absolutely beautiful and enchanting, played by Leslie Jackson). These transformations, done onstage, are so quick and amazing you will swear you have seen the magic. Don’t blink. The step-family is dressed in three shades of Pink. The Hair and wig design by Paul Huntley is worth a mention. Scenic Design by Anna Louizos looks like a beautiful children’s book; lovely and functional, lit by designer Kenneth Posner. Did I mention hand puppets? Those too, are magic, and these woodland creatures become dancing carriage attendants who transport Cinderella to the ball.
Original Choreography by Josh Rhodes, tour Choreography by Lee Wilkins, gives all ensemble members a chance to shine. The one-armed lifts in the ballroom scene are fun to watch.
Performances: My favorites were Prince “Topher” played amusingly and musically by Louis Griffin, and Stepsister Charlotte (think “lotta”) by comedic actor Joanna Johnson. Also liked the nefarious “advisor” to the Prince, Sebastian, played by Christopher Swan. The firebrand suitor Jean-Michel (Corbin Williams) to stepsister Gabrielle (Nicole Zelka) make a cute couple fighting for social justice. Vincent B. Davis is an imposing presence announcing all matters of royal importance. The ensemble energetically rocks.
Everyone involved in this tour does it justice, and I want to say once again how lucky we are to have The Fabulous Fox Theater in St. Louis. It’s so close, and all the staff I have encountered are accommodating and pleasant. Thank you, Fox.
Everyone get your tickets NOW. Especially if you have little princesses and princes waiting to be enchanted by live magic.