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While many people were tuning into the latest Republican party political debate last night the more sane folks in Central Florida were attending the ‘Cinderella’ opening night at the Dr. Philip’s Center for the Performing Arts. Little did theater goers know that there would be no escape from politics after all, as the play delved into the realms of “one person, one vote” as well as a more subtle reminder of the issues facing the world in terms of poverty and wealth.
A little artistic license is perfectly acceptable though, when most people agree with the basic concepts of fairness in life and so it was last night as most people fell in love with a charming deviation from the original script that was portrayed in the 1950 Walt Disney film and the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein TV musical in 1957.
The show itself is simply a delight. From the Anna Louizos scenic stage designs that frame the plot, Kenneth Posner’s romantic lighting design through to William Ivey Long’s costumes that are striking and extremely clever. Hint: Do not take your eyes off Cinderella as she learns she can go to the Ball after all!
With its fresh new take on the beloved tale of a young woman who is transformed from a chambermaid into a princess, the hilarious and romantic show combines the story’s classic elements – glass slippers, pumpkin, and a beautiful ball along with some surprising twists. More than just a pretty face with the right shoe size, this Cinderella is a contemporary figure living in a fairytale setting. She is a spirited young woman with savvy and soul who doesn’t let her rags or her gowns trip her up in her quest for kindness, compassion and forgiveness. She longs to escape the drudgery of her work at home and instead work to make the world a better place. She not only fights for her own dreams, but forces the prince to open his eyes to the world around him and realize his dreams too.
The production also sounds wonderful but then again, it should, given the Dr. Phillip’s Center for the Performing Arts is celebrating it’s first birthday in its brand new building. Local musicians supplement the touring orchestra and that adds a nice touch to the Rodgers and Hammerstein score which brings new life to several “lost” songs from the show’s original tunes.
Douglas Carter Beane’s updated story-line gives the show more of a feel of a pantomime and that makes the evening a lot of fun as lines like “How many gowns have crazy women in them?”, “Seriously? Ser-i-ous-ly?” and “I’m good!” flow effortlessly to the appreciative audience.
‘Cinderella’ is enhanced by some excellent performances by Liz McCartney as the Fairy Godmother, Blair Ross as the sinister stepmother and Blake Hammond who possesses Donald Pleasence like qualities as Sebastian – the advisor to the Prince. Aymee Garcia and Kimberly Fauré also give steadfast performances as the amusing stepsisters while Kaitlyn Davidson takes the lead role as ‘Ella’ – our beautiful heroine. Andy Huntington Jones equally entertains as the maturing Prince, somewhat comically named Topher.
The show runs through to November 15, 2015 as part of the 2015-2016 FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando Season presented in partnership with Florida Theatrical Association. Tickets for CINDERELLA can be purchased online at drphillipscenter.org, by phone at 844.513.2014 or in person at the Dr. Phillips Center Box Office (Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday, noon to 4:00 pm.
Running Time: 2 hours 15 minutes including intermission of 20 minutes.
Performances: 8 p.m. today thru Friday; Nov. 13; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14; 1 and 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15
Cost; $33.75 to $118.75