Drama program changes pace with lighthearted Cinderella

“Re-live the story and witness how injustice is vanquished by unconditional love.” This advertisement, from the theater and dance department’s annual brochure, may be a bit ambitious for a play with glitter and a prince that sings, “Do I love you because you’re beautiful, or are you beautiful because I love you?”

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is a musical fairytale that leaves the audience humming happily as they exit.

Teresa Nevola Moyer’s staging of Cinderella was a nice change for Eastern theater. Following the dark themes of past productions Sheltered, Merrily We Roll Along, The Exonerated and Measure for Measure, Cinderella‘s lighthearted themes gave Eastern students a chance to relax a little.

Highlights of the show included rodent hand puppets and a carriage ride made possible with spinning disco lights and floating gold gauze.

The role of Cinderella was double-cast, with junior Anna Bender and senior Rachel Stephan on alternating performances. Bender’s Cinderella was dreamy and slightly demure, showing sparks during the rendition of Lovely Night. Stephan’s take on the role was more spirited, giving her songs more energy.

Their counterpart, Prince Charming, was played by first-year Elliot Simko. Simko, looking appropriately dashing, sang in a rich bass that gave him some trouble on the higher notes.

The Prince’s groom, Lionel, played by first-year Bob Grant, had the audience waiting with baited breath for the next one-liner. The ugly step-sisters also deserve their accolades. First-year Gregory Walton played Minerva with such attempted feminine grace that it was distractingly funny at times, and first-year Elizabeth Loughridge gave Esmeralda the most hideously humorous laugh.

Junior Ashleigh Henderson’s fairy godmother was full of sparkle and the white glow of a black-light. Her performance of Impossible marked one of the show’s more energetic moments.

The choice (or obligation due to the stage extension) to put the pit into a cramped corner backstage muted the sound and deflated much of the musical’s natural energy. Actors and orchestra were forced to watch each other on small televisions.

Cinderella‘s music is catchy, the dancing enthusiastic and the simple plot timeless. Whether or not it carried out Eastern’s goal to do all things “in love and justice,” what Cinderella did accomplish was leaving an audience with a satisfied feeling that perhaps things really can end happily ever after.

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