North Shore Music Theatre's latest show is Rodgers & Hammerstein's" Cinderella" which is the well known tale about glass slippers, ugly step-sisters, magic wands and a midnight curfew. Originally adapted for the stage from the television version starring Julie Andrews on March 31, 1957, updated from the 1965 TV version starring Lesley Ann Warren and once again in 1997, this stage show version never ceases to entertain people of all ages. Director Greg Ganakas breathes new life into to this show with his fabulous, energetic 34 member cast of 20 adults and 14 children. He creates a magical wonderland at North Shore Music Theatre with topnotch musical direction by Edward Reichert and wildly inventive choreography by Karen Azenberg. This spectacular musical wins over the entire audience with its strong acting, singing and dancing as well as with splendid sets, costumes, lighting, sound and dazzling special effects, earning it the well deserved standing ovation at its conclusion.
Greg chooses the best performers for each role and moves them seamlessly around the stage. Edward not only conducts his orchestra but also plays the keyboard while doing so eliciting the best sounds from them and beautiful melodies and harmonies from the cast. Karen's dance numbers are executed wonderfully by the cast and they include a madcap segment of dancing chefs while carrying trays of food and drink, a gavotte where the prince dances with his intended brides to be, a dance for the two rats who become humans (with two mechanical rats whirling around the stage before the transformation ) and the grand waltz with the couples moving expertly around the turntable stage while it revolves. The scenic design by Dex Edwards is splendid and easily moves on & off ( one of the special effects is a swing that glides from the raised center platform out into the audience with the fairy godmother on it as the audience gasps in delight. The multitude of gorgeous costumes are by Gail Baldoni including ball gowns, the wedding gowns and the royal costumes. The numerous wigs, including the comical ones for the stepmother and Joy, the stepsister, are by Gerard Kelly. The mood setting lighting including a glowing full moon is by Martin Vreeland with the many sound effects by John Stone. Jon Kimbell, the executive producer and artistic director, keeps the production values at a high standard for all his shows and this fairy tale musical is no exception. Bravo on a job well done to everyone involved with "Cinderella".
The cast is lead by two multitalented performers. Sarah Schmidt as Cinderella shows off her gorgeous soprano voice in her many numbers including "In My Own Little Corner" where she spins tales of the various exotic places she wishes to visit ( in this show 3 exotic visitors, a geisha , a Latin dancer and a can can girl dance with her) , "Impossible" and "Possible" with her Fairy Godmother and "Lovely Night" with her family. Sarah captures the essence of the girl yearning to find her Prince Charming and her transformation into a lovely princess and the love at first sight is done wonderfully by her strong acting talent. Nicholas Rodriguez as the Prince is not only tall, dark and handsome but is a splendid vocalist, dancer and actor, too. He appears only once in the first act in a riding outfit but gets to sing the sorrowful, "Loneliness in Evening" ( which was originally written for "South Pacific" when Nellie reads the note from Emi le where he explains how much he misses her) which tells how he wants to find a woman of his dreams. (Greg also uses this song as Cinderella's first one to show how they are kindred spirits before they even meet) Nicholas shows off his strong tenor voice in his duets with Sarah in the second act in the joyous waltz, "Ten Minutes Ago" (where he and Cinderella awkwardly talk about finding the person of their dreams) and in the ballad of love, "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful" ( where he realizes he loves Cinderella even though he doesn't know her name) His voice soars off the charts with the harmonic endings of each number, sending chills up your spine. Nicholas also shows a poignant side of the Prince when he sings "Do I Love You" reprise with his mother. Both Sarah and Nicholas are perfect in these roles, capturing the hearts of one and all in the audience
The evil and nasty stepmother and stepsisters, Joy and Portia are played hilariously by Lisa McMillan, Jennifer Cody and Laura Jordan. Lisa is a tall woman with a black and purple beehive wig, she plays the role as a whirling dervish yelling at everyone in sight. She reminds you of Cruella Deville but she sounds like Tallulah Bankhead. Jennifer is a tiny actress clad a blond wig of pin curls but she has a booming voice and does many funny pratfalls perfectly while Laura is extremely tall and plays the dumb sister who thinks she is smart wonderfully, too. These three scene stealing harpies are a hoot and the "Stepsister's Lament" is a showstopper as they stalk Cinderella and the Prince while trying to hide behind a potted plant. Another funny touch is having the Stepmother wearing a black dress to the wedding. The three of them also get to do "Driving Through the Moonlight" and "Lovely Night" with Cinderella which gives them a chance to show a pretty side to their singing voices
The King and Queen are fantastically played by David Coffee and Terry Burrell. David wears a baldpate and is padded to play the food loving monarch. His bawdy behavior is hilarious and he delivers his many one liners splendidly. Terry is excellent as the power behind the throne and her fabulous voice shines in her duets. The first one is a lush ballad with David called "Boys and Girls Like You and Me" ( which was a love song for Curley and Laurey originally in "Oklahoma" before it was cut from that show) and the second is the reprise of "Do I Love You" done tenderly with the prince, showing the Queen's maternal side and giving the show a touching and sentimental moment to savor. The fairy godmother is superbly played by Annie Golden. She wears a red wig and looks and sounds like Glynis Johns. Annie's flair and charm pours through in this magical role as she walks through walls and starts the fire going with a nod of her head and turns a pumpkin into a carriage. Her strong voice sells "Impossible" and "Possible" with Cinderella and her impish charm shines through, endearing her to the audience. So for an enchanted return to your youth, be sure to catch "Cinderella" at North Shore Music Theatre before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you.