As I walked into the Murray Park Amphitheater I could see why the prince had to resort to a shoe in order to find his true love. The theatre was full of princesses of all ages and sizes, dressed in ball gowns and crowns. Add the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein to the lighthearted mood of the crowd, and the tone is set for the evening as the classic tale of Cinderella is brought to life.The plot is well known to everyone: girl dreams big, meets a prince, prince falls for girl but loses her, prince finds a glass slipper and uses it to find his love, prince and girl live happily ever after.
Ideally situated in a cozy grove of trees, the theater provided a perfect setting for the play. A warm breeze helped drown out the chatter from the young audience, which would have been distracting indoors but somehow seemed appropriate in the family-friendly arena. The wide-open stage was beautifully decorated with the outline of a shimmering pumpkin, and gave room for a variety of set pieces. Scene changes smoothly transitioned the show from one scene to the next.
I was impressed with the way the characters filled the stage and kept the action going. The director, Steve Schmid, had the actors moving from one side to the other or even out into the crowd instead of focusing all the action in the same spot.
Although the show started out with high-energy, the ensemble seemed to lose steam as the show progressed, which may have been a result of opening night jitters. Some of the dancing scenes were a little out of sync and slightly chaotic, as couples bumped into each other during the ball.
Erika Smith (Cinderella) has a beautiful voice, but was timid on the stage. Her acting was a bit juvenile, but appropriate for a children’s audience. I would have liked to see her take control of the stage and fill the spotlight. The stepsisters, played by Michele Gomez and Cassidy Oldroyd, gave a fun, energetic performance. Awkwardly towering over their mother, the pair playfully bickered and fought over the prince. For me, however, Gordon Jones and Nancy Jensen stole the show with their performance of the King and Queen. The King, with his down-to-earth penny-pinching attitude, and the Queen, with her ridiculously extravagant gown, make the bantering couple a loveable pair.
A live pit accompanied the ensemble, which gave it a lively tone. Too often, however, the music drowned out the actors and their words were lost in a sea of slightly flat notes. It would have been nice if the microphones had been turned up or the music a bit softer.
During intermission young princes and princesses from the audience were invited to go up and join in the “Royalty Parade.” The Queen taught them how to properly curtsey as they made their way across the stage. All of the little princesses were asked to try on the glass slipper as the prince continued his search for Cinderella.
Overall the show was fun and made for an enjoyable evening and a perfect way to spend a warm summer night.