Once upon a time (Tuesday to be exact), in a not so far away land (San Jose), shoe aficionados, wannabe princesses and lovers of all things Disney were treated to a whimsical, magical and thoroughly entertaining opening of Rodgers+Hammerstein’s Cinderella, a presented by Broadway San Jose.
Loosely following the plot of the original Cinderella, this updated version follows the woeful tale of Ella (played by the exceptionally talented Paige Faure), the neglected and abused step-daughter to the evil Madame. I do not need to outline the plot of the story. You know the story of Cinderella. Everyone knows the story of Cinderella…and while the story retains the same music and many of the same elements of the original version (handsome prince, fairy godmother and glass slipper lost at the stroke of midnight), this modernized take of the classic has so much more to offer.
Did you know that the prince (perfectly played by Andy Huntington Jones) has a name? Quite a few of them in fact! He has personality and dreams and a moral dilemma and a kingdom being run into the ground by a dubious advisor. Cinderella is not just an abandoned and abused girl, but a smart and strong heroine who sees the good in all and encourages others to follow their dreams. Cinderella’s evil step-sisters maybe aren’t entirely evil, but rest assured, her step mother is bad to the core. Very little of what you see is what you would expect with this production, and that is not at all a bad thing. With witty dialogue, smart comedy and a smattering of political commentary, this modern day Cinderella is no longer a story of a damsel in distress waiting on her prince to rescue her.
Despite all of the updates and twists, one thing about Cinderella stays true to the original – the magic. Cinderella’s fairy godmother bursts on the scene to teach us anything is possible. Kecia Lewis, in the role of Fairy Godmother nailed her performance. In a scene that truly blew me away, Ella is transformation into a glamourous and empowered princess right before your eyes. The scene is magical indeed.
This Cinderella had me at “Once Upon and Time” and I am sure that after you see this, you will live happily ever after.
Rodgers+Hammerstein’s Cinderella is playing a limited engagement now through March 8, 2015 at the Center for Performing Arts (255 Almaden Blvd. San Jose, CA). Tickets for Cinderella range in price from $38 – $128 and are available now via www.broadwaysanjose.com or by calling 800-982-ARTS (2787).