SOUTH SALT LAKE CITY — Watching The Children’s Theatre’s Cinderella and the Glass Slipper wasn’t all that new or life-changing, but in this case, that wasn’t the point. This wasn’t a show geared toward adults—we who always feel the need to analyze and pick-apart minute details. It was a show (as the theater’s name so blatantly explains) for children—and for that audience, Cinderella delivered.
Reviewing a piece obviously not geared toward me as an audience member is somewhat of a challenge. I am not a child and consequently, much of my review comes from (maybe not so) covert spying on the children in the audience around me. A child doesn’t care how deep a play is or how impactful the story is. A child does not analyze the use of lighting, music, or costume design to bring out the show’s hidden thematic elements. A child simply reacts—purely, absolutely, with no shame for being outright bored if something is boring or conversely, joyously giddy when entertained.
Knowing this, as I waited for the show to begin and watched the anticipation on the small faces around me, I thought: what a tough gig for these theatre artists. Honestly! Maybe the actors didn’t have to worry as much in this show about how in sync they are with the character or what their constant motivation is (though the acting, I noticed with my adult analytical brain, was well-executed by all). But they had the biggest stressor of all: the lack of a socially-brainwashed-to-be-polite audience. Kids do not temper their opinions and reactions, one of their most endearing—and frustrating—qualities. However, kids want magic. They want to believe fairy tales are true—that they are a reality we adults so easily dismiss. And that is what I was looking for in the faces of the children around me—that face of being entranced, of believing a little more in magic because of the show before them.
And that was precisely what I saw. I saw the terror and horror on kids’ faces as the stepmother (the impressively evil Meighan Smith)—belittled and mocked Cinderella. I saw the amusement and humor that the child audience members had towards the two ugly stepsisters (Mandi Jensen and Allison Froh)—whose comedic timing was perfect, by the way. And I saw the absolute thrill, the magic as the French-speaking Fairy Godmother (Mattie June Smith) appears multiple times to save the day. And of course, I could not ignore those faces of mixed excitement, and perhaps a little embarrassment, as the perfectly dashing prince (probably my favorite character, played by Landon Kraczek) gave the ever-sweet, ever-lovable Cinderella (Alex Vermillion) her first kiss.
A little adult talk: the scenery was simplistic, but enough to create the scenes, especially because the acting was so energetic and engaging that I couldn’t help but use your imagination to “create” the world in my own mind. My favorite scenes were among the “royals”—the King and Queen, the royal attendants, and of course, the Prince. The added character of beauty expert La Plumeba (Spencer Jackson Hohl) was constant comedy. I am sorry to say that I don’t even know who composed or executed the stunning music—which gave that extra oomph every show needs to reach beyond the ordinary. Kudos to the director, Brett Howell, for pulling together so many great elements to form this entertaining show.
This was my first time seeing a show at The Children’s Theatre (which is in a new venue, I learned, and looks like a nice, promising space) but it will not be my last. I want to return with my kids to share with them the wonder that is theater—stories come to life so vibrantly before them. And, let’s be honest, it never hurts every now and then to have a few hours to try to feel like a kid again.