By Amanda VanNostrand.
The magic of Cinderella is flowing through The Kimmel Center until February 24th. This feel-good musical is a perfect way to warm your bones during this winter season, as it will charm you and remind you why the hope offered through fairy tales is so important.
Cinderella is the story of Ella, a young woman at the mercy of her stepmother and two stepsisters. When the Prince decides to find himself a bride, he hosts a ball at the castle and as much as Cinderella wishes to attend, her stepmother forbids it. Her Fairy Godmother comes to the rescue and Cinderella’s dreams come true: from attending the ball and dancing with the Prince to finding out that love is possible for those who are met with adversity, anyone in attendance will be fortunate to witness as she finds her happy ending.
In the midst of the common themes and scenes in most renditions of Cinderella, there are slight changes that bring lessons to light in this particular production. Jean-Michel (Nic Casaula) is a revolutionary and is obsessed with creating socio-economic change, feeding the homeless, and Gabrielle, Cinderella’s stepsister. As Gabrielle (Natalie Girard – one of the fantastic actresses of this production!) states in her earnest confession of her feelings for Jean-Michele, “He’s angry for all the right reasons!” One would hope that little girls would walk away with the understanding that men who fight for those less fortunate than themselves are the ones worth the headache! There is also the line, “all the dreamers in the world are dizzy in the noodle”, encouraging girls to go for it; fight; and ignore the expectations of a cookie-cutter life created by the outside world. If you’re not ‘dizzy in the noodle’, what is the point?
Upon walking into the theater, guests are welcomed by what looks to be an Enchanted Forest: starry skies and towering trees greet the audience and literally set the stage for the magical story. Scenic design by Anna Louizos remains top-notch as the story proceeds: the French cottage where Cinderella and her stepsisters reside will make audience members wish they could climb up and play house. From the outside to the inside, the French cottage comes alive. Scenes that take place within the forest are beautiful as well: the large moon and starry sky create a marvelous backdrop for this performance.
The cast of this production is incredible as well. Kaitlyn Mayse plays Ella, and she is a natural princess. The beautiful voice and sweet disposition she brings to her character are perfect. The next favorite would have to be Joanna Johnson, who plays Charlotte, one of Cinderella’s spunky, comical stepsisters. Charlotte’s character is full of laughable wit and Johnson is a perfect choice for this role. Lukas James Miller as Prince Topher is excellent as well; his voice and skills as an actor make Prince Topher into the loveable (albeit ignorant and naïve) Prince that steals Cinderella’s heart.
Lastly, you can’t have Cinderella transform from a maid into a Princess without phenomenal costumes, and William Ivey Long was clearly inspired to do his role as Costume Designer. As usual, the women’s costumes are most intriguing and especially during the ball scene, they were a rainbow of swirls and frills as each woman dons a different colored dress and dazzles the audience with the visual effect. Cinderella’s transformation is amazing as well, and is definitely one to witness in person. Full of sparkles and fluff, the stage is alight with amazing cast members dressed to perfection.
Though fun and lighthearted, Cinderella offers important life lessons to all tiara-laden children and adults in attendance. The power of forgiveness, the magic of hope, and the essential need to persevere in life are all enveloped in this lovely pink-and-purple show. Another must-see show at the Kimmel Center!