By Jasmine Boots
The MTPA production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella offered a few interesting twists to the fairytale we all know and love. A few unfamiliar characters introduced new plot lines to the classic tale, going so far as to incorporate a secondary romance and a few modern ideals. Cinderella (who goes by Ella) lives with her wicked stepmother (called Madame) and two stepsisters. In this version, however, only one of the Ella’s stepsisters shares their mother’s mean spirit. The other proves to be kind-hearted and is in love with Jean-Michel, a revolutionary who wants to rally the peasants and confront the prince. Ella meets the dashing Prince Topher outside her house when his procession stops for water, and the two share an instant connection. While kind and generous, the prince is blind to the exploitation of the kingdom by his advisor Sebastian. When it is later announced there will be a royal ball, Ella desperately wants to go. She decides that not only does she want to see Prince Topher again, but that it is her duty to open the his eyes to the poor state of the kingdom. This sets up a new course of events for the characters as the play progresses, one very different from the original. The change of pace kept the play from feeling stale. In spite of a few glitches with the microphones, the play was well executed and kept the audience enraptured.
Miranda Gibson captured the audience’s hearts as the title role of Cinderella, while Will Esposito played her love interest Prince Topher. Frankky Hightower gave a sensational performance as the Fairy Godmother, who in the play was known as Crazy Marie. An abundance of joy and laughter was brought to the audience by Cinderella’s wicked stepmother (April Marion) and step-sisters, who were played by Yasmin Nicholas and Annalise Prentiss. Grant Dombach played Jean-Michel. Luke Mundorf played the prince’s advisor Sebastian (who is also Madame’s co-conspirator) and Baird Thompson played Lord Pinkleton. Yan Brown and Bethany Zatto played Ella’s footmen, who were originally a raccoon and a fox. The costume crew did a fantastic job, pulling off multiple quick changes throughout the play. I felt my jaw drop when the Fairy Godmother’s cape lit up, which was entirely unexpected. The soft purple glow really made the character feel magical. The set was also done exceptionally well, from the trees to Cinderella’s shining carriage. Ella’s house included intricate details which prevented it from looking hollow. The stage crew did a tremendous job of making sure the set brought the play and its magic to life.
The musical numbers and choreography managed to fit a broad scope of talent while also providing time to highlight individual abilities. When the town started singing and waving around the invitations to the ball, it made me want one of the little yellow slips of paper for myself. The joy was palpable onstage that the audience was truly able to share in that moment. From the passion and talent conveyed by the actors to the creativity and details portrayed on set, the MTPA did a wonderful job in pulling off the musical.