Regional Reviews: Raleigh/Durham
In this telling we get the back story from two fairy helpers, the delightful Ruth Berry and Elizabeth Anderson. Their toe-tapping introductory number of the Fairy Godmother, performed with superb comedic instincts by Tina Morris-Anderson, signals that this will not be your average Cinderella. As we know, Cinderella's father, who had remarried a woman with two daughters, passes away, leaving Cinderella under the care of her new stepmother, a wickedly hilarious Alison Lawrence, and her two ugly step-sisters, Henrietta and Gertrude, played with gusto by Tim Cherry and M. Dennis Poole, reminding this reviewer of Bert Lahr and Milton Berle. Meanwhile King Darling III, a delightful Timothy E. Locklear with a southern drawl and a bad case of nearsightedness, is desperate to find a suitable wife for his bachelor son, a commanding Sai Graham. The Prince, unsure if he will find true love in such a quick time, agrees to a Christmas Ball in his honor.
While the plot is familiar, the production is fresh. The directors have found pleasant opportunities for everyone to participate, sending the Prince out to try the slipper on audience members, their reactions caught on a Facebook Live feed for all to see. There is also the "Sneeze Polka" at the Ball, a bit of a one-joke song that might go on too long but does get the audience engaged.
The costumes by Vicki Olson are astonishingly beautiful, ranging from cartoon colors for the stepmother and her daughters to period perfection on the common folk of the kingdom. As if the hand puppet mice were not cute enough, wait until you see them turn into adorable ponies, thanks to Ms. Olson's talents. Cinderella's costume change from peasant girl to princess is astonishing, and I am still unsure how they pull it off. Thomas Mauney's scenic design is simplistic when needed but ornately detailed when the time is right. The lighting design by Cailen Waddell adds amazing magical flourishes, from the Fairy Godmother waving her wand to cause a flow of magic dust to cross the proscenium, to the clock above the stage that marks the time. Todd Houseknecht's sound design augments moments both magical and comedic.
Whether Cinderella is an old friend or a new discovery, it is a delightful way to usher in the holiday season. The audience at the performance I attended included many children: little girls with tiaras and fairy wands, and boys wearing crowns or jester hats (available at the souvenir stand). This musical will delight those of all ages, with never a dull moment over its two hours with no intermission.
Cinderella is presented by the Raleigh Little Theatre at the Cantey V. Sutton Theatre. 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, NC 27607 through December 18, 2016. Tickets for season members are $27, all others start at $33. Tickets can be purchased online at www.raleighlittletheatre.org or by phone at 919-821-3111.
Fairy tale by: Charles Perrault
Cast: In order of appearance