Cinderella is one of the “Once upon a miracles” and “Happily ever afters” we are most familiar with and to see this production in theatres was a miracle within itself. As a child, I had never really been interested in reading many of these fairytale stories in that I knew from a young age how miraculous yet unreal these types of circumstances were due to my overexposure to dramas as well as my family constantly reminding me to not get my head stuck in the clouds and to stay in reality. But regardless, I found this play, Cinderella the Musical, a very enjoyable experience.
The costumes, sets, lightings as well as sounds and choreography were all magnificent components to the production in which made it one of the most unforgettable and fascinating experiences. The play was a very friends and family friendly experience in which many people brought their family especially their children and the theatre itself was quite small so it felt a lot more close to home than it would in a large theatre. Other than the theatre of the play itself, in this review I will be discussing about the sets, costumes, lightings, sounds and also choreography Cinderella the Musical was performed at The Players Theatre which is located at 115 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012. It was an amazing play with very spectacular actors, one of which was actually a drag queen and it was quite easy to tell that he was a drag queen due to his intense eye makeup and manipulated high voice. The actor of this drag queen was actor Eric Fletcher. He was playing as Madame, who was also known as the stepmother in the actual story of Cinderella.
I definitely believe that portraying this character with a drag queen is definitely something that really contributed to the humor factor of this musical and made this play a lot more enjoyable than if they just portrayed the stepmother as this cliché nasty and mean character like in many other forms of art and literature that we see, and took a turn from how many of us may think of the story of Cinderella in our minds. Other than the drag queen actor, the other characters also definitely did an great job in portraying the natures of their characters and made this experience enjoyable as well. Each character was changed and manipulated in a very humorous way and was probably what kept me in the seat throughout the play. Along with the acting, the costumes were very beautiful and advanced as well, in what one dress was able to turn into another. For Cinderella’s dress for example, she was in rags while the stepmother and stepsisters left for the ball, however when the stepmother casted a spell on her, she spun around and detached the two buttons on her shoulders and it immediately unfolded and looked like a completely different dress from before.
Although the dresses were not very expensive or particularly large in size like how we might imagine ball gowns, they sufficed and were interesting aspects of the play as well. Each scene made a very smooth transition. The lights would fade, and you could slightly see people moving on stage to change the pieces of the set and you could also hear little chimes in the background portraying some sort of magical being. I did not find these transitions distracting at all but instead, found it a very beautiful aspect of the musical because the staff actually had costumes on and were slightly dancing and twirling on stage while moving the props around. The set was surprisingly simple and not overwhelming at all since most of the props were accordion room dividers with wheels on them. The golden carriage was actually what took me aback with the set and props.
The play did not use an actual carriage or vehicle, but instead they used a cardboard cut out of what seemed to look like a carriage and the wheels were also detached pieces that were brought on stage by the dancing mice who were actually four to five year old actors in small mice costumes. Cinderella also made good use of the aisles into the audience, which was used as stairs to the castle, the actor portraying Cinderella runs off stage past the aisles but goes back another way to the back room and later comes back on stage to play the scene where the family awaits at home for the prince to arrive. Other than the set itself though, I found the visible live band directly under the stage one of the most interesting factors of the play.
I have never been to a play with a directly visible live band, not to mention the actors actually broke the fourth wall of the play and talked to the band. During the scene where the Prince arrived at Cinderella’s house and a horn was played to symbolize royalty’s arrival, the stepmother whom was also the drag queen was annoyed with the constant horn and said the line “Oh will you shut it tin horn man!” which made the audience break into laughter. The lighting is worth mentioning as it was used strategically for conveying emotion and creating a mood for the atmosphere. When Cinderella was talking about her mother and sang “Mama’s Sweet Song”, the lighting of the stage suddenly become warmer colors such as red and orange in which would make the audience think of sunlight and the warmth under it and highly used orange tone lighting to convey the feelings Cinderella had towards her late mother.
Other than the lighting during that scene another notable thing is that they had background dancers while Cinderella was singing that portrayed the younger Cinderella along with her Mom and Dad. All three of them were dancing while smiling portraying how happy they used to be. Besides this warm toned scene, during the scene where the stepsisters sang “More”, the lighting started becoming greener and greener to portray greed. In the seven deadly sins, the color greed is in relation with the sin of greed and envy, and so this was a great choice for lighting. The use of spotlights was also something I appreciated, because during the ball scene, there were various people on stage and the spotlight on Cinderella and the prince and was able to attract our attention to them. And along with by the lighting, I believe the songs and sounds were interesting as well in which the actors would burst into song during the high and lows in their emotion.
For example, when they were singing their song “More” they broke into song after repeating themselves saying “I want more. More, more, moreeeee!” This song also resembled their desperateness for more money and social status. Sound wise, I believe they really portrayed many of my expectations for the sounds a Cinderella production should have. The live band used chimes to represent the miraculous fairy dust sounds and they also used sound to foreshadow to the audience that the cook of Cinderella’s household is her fairygod mother by playing the chimes when she waved her spoon around. Other than the chime sounds, they also used other instruments such as the horn to portray the arrival of royalty, the prince, whom came to Cinderella’s household to search for her and have her try on the shoe.
In terms of choreography, I loved how the actors used overdramatic movements for some scenes of the musical. One example would be when the stepsisters used the cliché “hand over forehead” movement to portray agony and dismay. But, contrary to the meaning of this movement, it was used to portray the mocking of Cinderella not being able to go to the ball along with the stepsisters. Another choreographic movement I believe was a great incorporation was how during the ball, after Cinderella and the Prince stops dancing and Cinderella and Prince talk about how she has to leave, the background dancers portraying other women at the ball all froze, focus on their conversation. I think this really helped attract the attention of the audience to specifically Cinderella and the Prince, in addition to the spotlight shone on them.
Cinderella the Musical, was a really nice journey back to the years of youth many of us may have spent reading the many stories of happily ever afters. Besides the original storyline of the play being the same, I believe that the incorporation of humor and drag queen into this play really boosted the humor aspect of the play and made it a musical I would definitely recommend to my friends and families. After the play was finished, I was also sent an email by the cast of the musical thanking us for attending the show and we were also sent one free music track from the musical which I found very sweet of them to do so.
In addition to the one free track were received from the cast by email, we were also given the option to buy a card in which contained all the songs from the musical and would allow us to download them on our devices as well. This time, I attended the musical with a close friend from outside of class and her opinion towards the play was also very positive and found it very humorous as well. After I forwarded the email to her, she was in awe that the cast was sweet enough to send us a track and thank you letter and such sweet actions made this even more of a play to remember.