Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella is the timeless tale of a young maiden, who dreams of the impossible but makes the possible happen with a little help from her Fairy Godmother. The show opened in Orange County on Tuesday night for the young and the young at heart alike.
Under the direction of Mark Brokaw. The new book by Douglas Carter Beane retells the beloved fairy tale but with an added presence of practical idealism towards the political, cultural and social happenings in the kingdom, how apropos in this election year.
Kaitlyn Davidson takes on the role of Ella. Davidson is certainly no stranger to the show. She previously portrayed stepsister, Gabrielle in the Broadway production. Her classical voice complimented each song perfectly as if written specifically for her. Additionally, her playful performance in numbers like “In My Own Little Corner” was truly endearing.
Andy Huntington Jones plays Prince Topher. Jones also came straight from the Broadway company as Topher’s understudy. Even though his character is unassuming, Jones is full of confidence and charm. His rich voice radiates in such songs as “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful.”
In this production, the parentless, Prince Topher has now ascended the throne. Undervaluing himself, he relies heavily on his henchman, Sebastian (Blake Hammond) to handle the existential crisis plaguing the kingdom, unbeknownst to him. To interject, is revolutionary, Jean-Michel (David Andino), who becomes the self-proclaimed “voice” of the poor.
Blair Ross plays the Madame, aka wicked stepmother, a bit familiar of Cate Blanchett’s portrayal in Disney’s live action remake. Stepsister, Charlotte (Lulu Picart) is conniving and self-righteous but has certain appealing qualities as well including her comedic presence. Her sister, Gabrielle (Kimberly Fauré) is much more benevolent as her principal focus is on Jean-Michel, her love interest.
Liz McCartney (Marie/Fairy Godmother) takes the stage as crazy Marie, an old beggar woman, who is befriended by Ella. With a twirl, Marie’s rags are transformed into a lavish gown when she reveals herself as the Fairy Godmother. McCartney also delivers some crowd-pleasing dialogue including “You’ll be surprised how many beautiful gowns have crazy women in them,” in response to Ella’s bewilderment of her transformation.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of the production is Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s unforgettable music and catchy lyrics in songs like “The Prince Is Giving a Ball,” “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible,” “Stepsister’s Lament,” “10 Minutes Ago” and “A Lovely Night” remastered in this production by David Chase.
Tony-Award winning Costume Designer, William Ivey Long is the brilliant mastermind behind the spectacular wardrobe in Cinderella. His designs once again demonstrate the ingenuity for seamless on stage transformations. A bit perplexing, however, was Ella’s gold ballgown, reminiscent of Belle’s iconic dress in Disney’s Beauty and The Beast. Not to be forgotten was Ella’s breathtaking Venetian glass slippers designed by shoe designer, Stuart Weitzman.
The set design by Anna Louizos served perfectly as the backdrop for the performers and housed such beautiful dance numbers, choreographed by Josh Rhodes in perfect succession. Most notable was the magnificent ballroom sequence in “Cinderella Waltz.”
At times, the virtuous subtext interweaved throughout the show does seem a bit forced, but all in all, this production was not only visually stunning but makes for a truly enchanting evening.
Cinderella is playing at The Segerstrom Center for the Arts now through May 1st. Make sure to catch the show before the clock strikes midnight and it’s gone forever. Tickets are available by calling (714)-556-2787 or online at http://www.SCFTA.org, or by visiting the Segerstrom box office. Ticket prices start at $25. The Segerstrom Center for the Arts is located at 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.