CENTERVILLE — Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella was actually first written for television in 1957 and then later was adapted for the stage. CenterPoint Legacy Theatre is currently doing the latest version, adapted for Broadway in 2013, which incorporated some new adjustments to the book by playwright Douglas Carter Beane. This version also has borrowed songs from the Rodgers and Hammerstein flop Me and Juliet, the film Main Street to Broadway, and songs cut from the creators’ stage shows. Directed by Jansen Davis, this production had a lot of lovely features.
Readers likely know the story of Cinderella because the story has been told for generations. This 2013 adaptation has added a bit more to the story, giving a chance for the title character (played by Jordyn Tracy) to make a connection with one of her stepsisters, Gabrielle (played by Julia Bradford) and showing some care for the greater populace with the help of a new character, Jean-Michel (played by Colton Ward). This additional story line adds a lot to the show, and I really enjoyed the level of maturity and talent that Ward and Bradford brought to the production. The sincerity with which Ward played his character made me really want to see some changes happen within the kingdom, something that made the story more substantial than the traditional Cinderella story.
The choreography, by Bailee DeYoung, was really fun to watch, especially in the numbers “The Prince is Giving a Ball” and all of the songs at the Ball. These numbers had musical elements beautifully executed, thanks to Brittney Ann Salazar, the music director. Salazar has done a wonderful job of combining the voices of the cast to showcase the talent onstage in a fantastic manner. The Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook is famous, and so it is essential for performers to get these songs right. Salazar has obviously worked hard with the cast to master the music in this show to perform them well. One of the standouts vocally was Drew Dunshee as Lord Pinkleton, whose clear voice during the Prince is Giving a Ball was a simple pleasure to listen to.
Matt Taylor as Prince Topher was . . . well . . . rather princely. I found out from a reliable source that Taylor is in the military, and the formality and dignity of that background is apparent in the performance. There is a moment in the show where he mounts a prop horse with such ease that I actually applauded. Taylor also has a very charismatic smile that had me taken. (That is, honestly, not an easy feat for because I am a cynical non-romantic.) When Taylor and Tracy as Ella sang the iconic song “Ten Minutes Ago,” I found it to be sweet, instead of a cheesy love song.
Janelle Tingey as Madame (the stepmother) had a very strong and commanding presence, though I confess that she seemed too young for the role. Riley Plott as the stepdaughter Charlotte looked more like a sister to Tingey than a daughter. But Tingey won me over by the end of the show, in spite of her younger demeanor. Plott had the fortune of singing my favorite song in the show, “Stepsister’s Lament,” which she did with absolute flair and precision.
The set (designer by Truxton Moulton) and the lighting design (by Colin “Skip” Wilson) made for an absolutely exquisite atmosphere. The detail on the branches and leaves along the edges of the stage was intricate and eye-catching, and the lighting complimented it so well. The addition of the costumes (designed by Sydney Howard) added to the visual pleasure of the show. However, there were quite a few costume mishaps, from loosened skirts during the exciting dress reveal and straps falling at other moments. I hope that these problems will be fixed throughout the run because the mishaps were distracting. But I still cannot ignore how lovely the costumes were in this production. I particularly enjoyed the costume for the fairy godmother Marie (played by Kim Allen Tolman), one that has not stood out in previous productions.
The newer script to Cinderella makes up for a lot of the pitfalls of the traditional fairytale story of yesteryear. Davis has done a fine job of assembling a good cast and team to build a more modern telling of this classic tale and adding a stronger moral to the classic situation. CenterPoint’s Cinderella is a fine production that many audiences will enjoy.