The curtain falls on another stunning Shawnee production, this year Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. On February 23rd and 24th, and March 2nd and 3rd, our students proved that “It’s Possible” to dazzle audiences time and time again. As anyone familiar with the tale knows, it follows the story of a young woman, Ella, who is mistreated by her family and leads a lonely life–that is, until a bit of magic and coincidence catapults her into a romance with the Prince and a chance to be a voice for the voiceless.
It is, in many ways, a political satire, recounting the struggle between peasants and gentry, the unheard and the heard, the eager revolutionaries and the conniving royal advisors…above all else, however, it is a story of finding the good in everyone and pretty much all of those rosy qualities that make fairy tales so palatable in their many forms.
This is a rather strong adaptation of Cinderella as you have known it; as Director Mrs. Kehl notes in her synopsis, Ella is the hero of her own story. She brings humanity back into the kingdom and becomes known as an inspiration and leader to the Prince and the people alike.
The musical numbers were just spectacular, from the high-spirited whirlwind “The Prince is Giving a Ball/Now is the Time,” to Ella’s imaginative solo (Lexy Rock, Emily Dunn) “In My Own Little Corner,” to “When You’re Driving Through the Moonlight/A Lovely Night,” a brief moment of camaraderie between Ella, Charlotte (Jamie Scheffer, Gina Chryssofos), Gabrielle (Serena Estacio-Touey, Grace Magee), and Madame (Jena Ziomek, Bailey LaPlante), to Prince Topher (Christian Iannuzzelli, Aidan Reilly) and Ella’s soaring duet “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?”
I was struck by the maturity of everyone’s acting and singing; the leads and various supporting roles were all spotless in their delivery of humorously tongue-in-cheek dialogue and comedic timing. The costumes and finery whisked the audience into the time period, and the Ella’s impressive on-stage costume changes–whipping one dress off to reveal another beneath it as she is transformed by her fairy godmother–drew a lot of merry applause. Overall, it was a courageously funny and forward-thinking production, honed by months of hard work from the leads, ensembles, stage managers, stage crew, tech crew, pit orchestra, and faculty.
A musical is, as ever, a chance to showcase the talent and dedication of everyone involved, and Cinderella met and exceeded those expectations! Any show is a success which makes you believe in what may seem like the impossible–that in a bizarre and ever-divided world, some individuals always choose kindness.