Theatre Works' last show of their 23rd season is Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, the well known tale of 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 for the 1965 TV version starring Lesley Ann Warren and once again in 1997 starring Brandy. Carol Varden takes this well known story and infuses it with new life with some clever additions including two video clips which are hilarious while music director Mary Jo Rett leads the 21 member cast in the numerous songs while playing the piano with her topnotch three member orchestra. The sets by John Ricci and Joe Casey are spectacular while the many gorgeous costumes are by Denise Luther. The magic of the show reaches the appreciative audience, making for an enjoyable evening of entertainment.
Carol's cast is hardworking and they move the turntable stage sets with ease while performing their acting duties split seconds later. Her capable stage manager Michele Pinault keeps the cast on their toes during the show. Carol's daughter, Mary Thompson who recently gave birth to her beautiful daughter, Mia, runs the lights for the show which were designed by Chris Cournoyer. Carol turns the three act musical into a two act show by using video between the acts. The comic video shows Cinderella running out to her coach which is now an orange car. She wears her ball gown and her godmother accompanies her at the end of the first act. At the end of the second scene, Cinderella runs out of the ball and is magically turned back into her old clothes while the Prince is in hot pursuit of her with the orange car turning back into a pumpkin. The video fits in perfectly and leads to gales of laughter from the crowd.
The cast is lead by two wonderful young performers. Jillian Rivers-Keegan as Cinderella shows off her lovely soprano in her many numbers including the opening song "The Sweetest Sounds" "Ten Minutes Ago" and "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful" with the Prince, "In My Own Little Corner" with Alexandra Dutremble and David Ariel who are two cute and talented children as the dancing mice, "Impossible" with her fairy godmother and "When You're Driving Through the Moonlight" and "A Lovely Night" with her stepmother and stepsisters. Jillian who is a pretty blond, plays the part of a wistful girl longing for the man of her dreams to show up and does so beautifully. Her transformation from country bumpkin to lovely princess is well done. The man of her dreams, the Prince is played by Eric Desnoyers, a college freshman who has been performing for many years. ( Eric has made the transition from child to adult performer with ease and now towers over many people at over six feet tall.)His songs include "The Sweetest Sounds" which Jillian also sings, showing the Prince and Cinderella are kindred spirits, "Ten Minutes Ago" where he and Cinderella fall in love at first sight and "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful" where they admit they love each other. Eric's strong singing voice booms out over the audience as he sells these numbers. He also has a poignant moment with his mother in the "Do I Love You" reprise. Wonderful job by two talented young performers.
The evil and nasty stepmother and stepsisters, Joy and Portia are hilariously played by Connie Anderson, Kelly Gauthier and Heather Viera. Connie clad all in black throughout the show, captures the shrewish hag wonderfully. Kelly and Heather steal many a scene as these diva like harridans who demand Cinderella wait on them hand and foot. Their song "Stepsister's Lament" is hysterically funny as are their antics at the ball. The three harpies also get to sing The Moonlight song and "A Lovely Night" with Cinderella. The King and Queen are played wonderfully by Joe Casey and Jessica Porcelli. Joe has many funny one liners and makes all of them count while Jessica shows the Queen is the real power behind the throne. Their voices shine in their duet called "Boys and Girls Like You and Me" which was originally written as duet for Curley and Laurey in Oklahoma. They also sing "Your Majesties" with the chef and the steward played by Veronica Ariel and Manon Yoder Kreider. Jessica also shows her maternal caring by throwing the ball for her son and in the reprise of "Do I Love You". The fairy godmother casting is rather unusual in this show because it is played by a male actor, John Ricci. He is a hoot in the role, playing it straight. He sings Fol-De-Rol" and "Impossible". Leon Saunders, Carol's real life grandson, plays the Herald, Sir Lionel and gets to show off a strong singing voice in the chorus song "The Prince is Giving a Ball". He also tries the glass slipper on the numerous women of the kingdom. One of the strongest songs in the show is the finale "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful" which the chorus does in splendid harmony a cappella (without musical accompaniment)! Rounding out this wonderful cast is Daniel Ariel, Ashley Rodrigues, Desiree and Nicole Hewey, Jack and Matt Moran, Mary Fleming and Randi Reichard. So for a magical treat for family members of all ages, be sure to catch "Cinderella".