By Erika Brown Thomas
Cinderella’s age-old tale of rags to riches is as familiar to parents and children today as it was to the generations before them. While this glass-slippered fairy tale is usually geared toward young girls, Broadway in Chicago’s Equity tour based on the 2013 Broadway revival is is a fully revamped and magically enhanced production, reaching the hearts of audiences, proving this transformative tale is indeed a perfect fit for one and all.
Douglas Carter Beane (New Book), David Chase (Music Adaptation, Supervision & Arrangements) and Danny Troob (Orchestrations) have outdone themselves by transforming Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein’s book and score from an originally made-for-television special into a full-fledged Broadway musical. With additional songs, fresh orchestrations, new characters, and a Cinderella and Prince with much more depth—this stunning production is unlike any seen before. (Its full history and synopsis may be read here.)
On opening night in Chicago, within the first 20 minutes of the show, leading lady, Paige Faure (Ella) was replaced by understudy, Audrey Cardwell, who showed the audience the shoe fit her just as well. Her soprano voice is outstanding in clarity and beauty while her ability to make the somewhat effusive and sickeningly sweet words of Cinderella believable, speaks to her chops as an actor.
The credit for Cinderella’s magical transformation from scullery maid to elegant princess (as well as a 2013 Tony award) goes to costumer William Ivey Long. His drop-dead gorgeous gowns are simply unparalleled by any previous adaptation or production. These deftly designed costumes cultivate the magic and effervescent sparkle imbued within the entire production. Plus, the rapid, eye popping on-stage costume changes defy reality, which—to the audience’s delight—cast a spell of their own.
Choreographer Josh Rhodes also lends an imaginative hand or perhaps more appropriately, foot, to display the exquisite costumes off to their fullest advantage. The creativity of the movement executed within the inspiring costumes is worth the ticket price alone. Moreover, the choreography is part of the breath of this show, telling the story through pictures and dance.
Kecia Lewis gives a notable performance in the role of Marie who later reveals her true character. Her warm voice is easy to listen to as she soulfully sings a new number, “There’s Music In You.” Additionally, Andy Jones plays the lost and soul-searching Prince Topher with a charming, endearing presence. These actors along with the rest of the principle cast successfully convey the depth and relevance of this new production.
Lastly, special recognition must go out to the creative team of technical designers including Kenneth Posner (Lighting Design), Anna Louizos (Scenic Design) and Nevin Steinberg (Sound Design) who remarkably work together to make the magic happen on stage. Surely, every audience member lucky enough to suspend reality in the world of this production will leave talking about the start of the second act, where they witness the fantastic transformation of the Godmother’s magic coming undone. The unique planning and execution of moments like these are the marks of a team of designers whose collaborations bear genius.
Cinderella Photo 5This production exceeds all expectations based upon past stagings of fairy tales. Somehow, Cinderella delivers the right amount of reality, whimsy and shimmer, yet still conveys the complexity, wit and challenges with which a modern day audience can connect.
The magic of this production will last long past midnight, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of those who attend.
“Cinderella” sweeps the stage at the Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph) through January 4, 2015. Tickets range from $22 – $115 with a select number of premium seats available for many performances. More information, a complete performance schedule and tickets are available online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com or by phone at (800) 775-2000.