The University of Rhode Island's current production is Rodgers & Hammerstein's, "Cinderella" which commemorates the centennial of Richard Rodgers birth. 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 1977, this stage show never ceases to entertain people of all ages. This college show boasts Broadway values, not only in the acting, singing and dancing but in the spectacular sets, costumes, lighting and sound. Director Paula McGlasson, musical director Lila Kane and choreographers John Michael Richardson and Denise Lachowski lead the 33 cast members in this magnificent musical fairytale, breathing new life into the best show of this year.
Paula chooses the cream of the crop to play the leading roles in her show and she moves the whole cast seamlessly around the stage. Lila not only conducts the ten piece orchestra while playing the piano, she also taught the vocalists their melodies and harmonies expertly. John Michael and Denise's choreography is beautifully executed by the cast and includes a madcap segment of dancing chefs, (while carrying trays and food) a gavotte (where the prince dances with his intended brides to be) and the grand waltz. (where every moves in perfect unison while changing their partners and not missing a beat) The sets by Cheryl DeWardener are stupendous. She creates turnable set pieces, huge two story ones of the town complete with the clock tower, the inside of Cinderella's house, the royal blue palace set as well as flown in walls, trees for the forest and scrims with the show's logo and stars on the upstage one. She also paints the stage floor into the face of a clock and built the coach to take Cinderella to the ball with the 4 dancers playing the 2 horses adding to the fun of the night. (The performers move them with ease, making the scenes flow along quickly without any snags.) Once again the talented David T. Howard creates breathtaking costumes from the ballgowns to the everyday wear to the king and queen's purple robes to the prince's golden costume to Cinderella's peasant outfit and her robe, ball gown and wedding dress. The lighting by Christian Wittwer creates the necessary magical glow needed to pull off the fairytale atmosphere. The sound by David Roy is expertly done without one microphone giving any feedback. Bravo on that feat because many a show is ruined by faulty mikes.
The cast is lead by two multitalented performers. Heidi Beckmann as Cinderella and Adam Wasserman as Christopher, the prince show off their acting skills as well as their singing and dancing talents. Both of them have played many diverse roles in the past. Heidi has played the Nicole Kidman type lead in the drama, "Top Girls" and the role of Morales in "A Chorus Line" while Adam has played Stanley, the older brother in "Brighton Beach Memoirs" and the stage manager in "Our Town". They fit their roles perfectly as they fall in love at first sight and making it believable while doing it. Heidi excells in her songs with a strong soprano voice especially "In My Own Little Corner" where you learn what the character is like and in the two numbers with the prince, the fairy godmother and her family. Adam displays his strong tenor voice in the sorrowful, "Lonliness of Evening", (which was originally written for "South Pacific") in the joyous waltz, "Ten Minutes Ago" and in the ballad of love, "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?". (The latter two with Heidi) Both of these young performers have a bright future ahead of them proving they can handle any and all roles which they are asked to play and doing all of them extremely well.
The King and the queen are played wonderfully by Keith Ryan Hanson and Elizabeth Gotauco. Keith wears a fat stomach pad and a baldpate while playing this food loving monarch. He plays the role with the right kind of bawdiness to invoke laughter. Elizabeth does an excellent job as the regal dame of the kingdom who really runs things in the household. Her line delivery is fantastic and her gorgeous coloratura soprano shines in her songs, "Boys and Girls Like You and Me" with the king, (originally written for Curley and Laurey in "Oklahoma") and the reprise of "Do I Love You" with the prince (where she shows her motherly concern for her son). The fairy godmother is played with great flair by Nicole DiCarlo who's strong voice sells her songs, "Impossible" and "It's Possible" with Cinderella. She plays the magical woman who walks through walls and gets the fire going with a nod of her head as well as transforming the pumpkin into a carriage. Nicole's impish charm shines through in this role, endearing her to the crowd.
The evil and nasty stepmother and stepsisters, Joy and Portia are played to the hilt by Nicole Gemma, Courtney Fabrizio and Addie Lepore. These three scene stealing harpies make Cinderella's life miserable and they do it in a very big and comical manner. Nicole makes this older woman a whirling dervish throughout the show while yelling at her stepdaughter or the people in town or chasing after an old beau or being chased by the same beau. Her comic touch shines through as this mean woman. Courtney and Addie are a hoot as the joyless and dumb stepsisters. They yell and boss Cinderella around but their standout scene is "The Stepsister's Lament" where they spy on the two lovers and sing about why they should be with the prince. They do this while they strangle two large plants in the garden. What a hoot. The three girls also sing "A Lovely Night" and "When You're Driving Through the Moonlight" with Heidi. The Herald is played by Donald Dallaire who sings the opening number, "The Prince is Giving a Ball" showing off his strong tenor voice. He also has numerous scenes where he ends up getting hit by the women of the kingdom at the ball and during the glass slipper search scene. One of the funniest scenes is where Donald rushes behind Adam as he paces in quick circles around the palace floor. Another funny scene is the chef's scene where a multitude of dancing cooks dance and somersault their way across the stage. The head chef is played by Ryan Kenny who talks with a very funny accent and leads the chorus in this fantastic dance segment.
The other talented 23 cast members play multiple roles in this triumphant show including four children ( one is played by Sarah Kane, music director's Lila's daughter.) So for a show that is as good as any musical you could show on Broadway or sometimes even better, be sure to catch URI's "Cinderella". Run do not walk to the box office for your tickets before the show gets sold out. tell them Tony sent you.