(Note: Potential Spoilers ahead — read at your own peril!)
Fortunately the production of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at Kansas City Starlight this week did not live up to its billing.
The ad blurb stated:
The new tour of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella delights audiences with its surprisingly contemporary take on the beloved tale of a chambermaid transformed into a princess. The lush, Tony Award®-winning musical combines the story’s classic elements – the pumpkin, glass slipper and masked ball – with some surprising new twists! More than just a pretty face with the right shoe size, this Cinderella is a spirited young woman with savvy and soul.
The billing in the evening’s program said the prince would be “a bit less ideal anda bit more human” while Cinderella would have “some spice and sass.” As for the plot, they “added a plot twist — one that I guarantee will elicit audible gasps from the entire audience!”
Based on the advertised setup, I expected a show of modern sensibilities set in an anachronist fairytale/medieval setting: People talking like 21st century people but walking around dressed up like 15th century people. In that I was fortunately disappointed.
Oh, there were things in the plot that looked 21st century, but they were fortunately superficial. There was a revolutionary theme — but the true theme was actually quite revolutionary against 21st century mentality and toward the medieval idea of a land only being right when it is in right relationship to its true king — and wrong when they are out of balance. If anything, the plot promoted monarchy. It was delicious to enjoy the show and realize the subversion that people were taking in without realizing it.
We went to see the show on Thursday night, when the role of Prince Topher was played by understudy Sean Seymour — though I couldn’t tell it was the understudy instead of the main star. In fact, this is the first show in a long time that I haven’t had issues with the vocal skills and alignment of one character or another. They were all good — not necessarily super — but none of the vocals detracted from the show itself.
Paige Faure was very fresh and energetic as Cinderella. The actresses for the step sisters and stepmother were actually quite sympathetic in their portrayals. Kecia Lewis was a really great Fairy Godmother — both in voice and acting — strong, solid, nurturing. There were no weak links.
The R&H Cinderella had never been on the stage before — it was originally produced for TV, and the producers had picked up extra R&H music from elsewhere to lengthen it to stage length, which required the plot ammendations the blurb promoted. But the moment where the gasp was supposed to occur did no such thing. It was more of a “huh?” moment. And as I mentioned earlier, most of the other plot changes did the opposite of what the blurb said they should — which is how most blurbs are, anyway.
So I wholeheartedly approve of this rendition, especially with the current cast.