Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella | The Fabulous Fox Theatre

Rogers-and-Hammersteins-Cinderella 500The entire production was nothing short of magical.

Rogers-and-Hammersteins-Cinderella 75

I know the story well. Every year around Easter time, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella would air and my mom would sit in front of the television anticipating it with glee. It was tradition. As she grew up, she shared her love of the musical with her children, so much so that I know every lyric to the classic that only hit Broadway for the first time in 2013. And as I waited with the same anticipation my mom had so many years ago for the now Tony Award-winning Broadway musical to start, I quickly realized I would not be disappointed. The entire production was nothing short of magical.

However, before we get into the depths of a fairytale coming to life before your eyes, first thing’s first: This is not Disney’s Cinderella. There will be no bibbity-bobbity-boo-ing. But before you become disenchanted, all the familiar trimmings are still present, including glass slippers, transformations, and a dashing prince falling in love with an underappreciated chambermaid.

For those who didn’t need to be reminded that this is no Disney stage production, know this is a fresh take on Rodger and Hammerstein’s version that premiered on television in 1957. It still features all the classics like “10 Minutes Ago,” “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” and “In My Own Little Corner,” sang to perfection, but it’s been filled out by Douglas Carter Beane (The Little Dog Laughed and Xanadu) from its original 90 minutes. New versions of two little-known Rodgers and Hammerstein songs were added from their other musicals, there is contemporary humor that kept everyone laughing, and innovative twists as Cinderella saves the prince just as much as he saves her. Even with the fiddling to make it politically dynamic and contain—what now seems mandatory—messages about self-esteem, this musical is guaranteed to transport you back to your childhood with aw. As for the real children, just remember this is an over two-hour show that I perceived as being a bit in-depth for all the Cinderella-styled little ones in the audience, many asleep by the bows.

Straight away, Tony-Award nominee Anna Louizo establishes the moment with grand woods—a theme carried throughout—and the cast lends a peek to the 330 extraordinary period costumes to come that were designed by six-time Tony Award-winner William Ivey Long. Cinderella wanders and Prince Topher battles a bug-like dragon, just to enlighten you to the music genius of Rodgers and Hammerstein soon after. You’ll be sucked in and entrapped until intermission; meanwhile, it will feel like the shortest first act you’ve ever experienced.

As is required by any Cinderella, transformation after transformation happens. The songs are admirable, but the makeovers will mesmerize you. Magic begins with “Fol-De-Rol” and a Fairy Godmother. From there, “Impossible” transitions into “Possible” and you believe right along with Cinderella. I’m talking passé peasant-fashion turning into a full, glittering ball gown while on a human being who is singing and spinning! A dress flat out melts into another one. Then an adorable raccoon and fox vanish and become two dancing studmuffins. There are twinkling lights, there’s a golden carriage, there is even flying. My mouth hung agape for the whole scene, my mother cried and the audience let out a chorus of gasps. As I said before: magic.

Even with magic, the musical wouldn’t be complete without its cast. Paige Faure dons the most famous shoes as she continues the title role from Broadway. Andy Jones plays a sweet, bewildered Prince Topher who sweeps her off her feet. Kecia Lewis shows her who she really is as the Fairy Godmother. Beth Glover, Aymee Garcia, and Ashley Park are the trio who belittle her. Rounding out the cast is an ensemble who dances the night away.

Cinderella is directed by Mark Brokaw and choreographed by Josh Rhodes. The music is from Richard Rodgers and the lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. A new book by Beane and the original book by Hammerstein accompany it. Music adaptations were completed by David Chase and the orchestrations by Danny Troob. | Liz Edwards

Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is at The Fabulous Fox Theatre from Jan. 20 to Feb. 1, 2015. For more information, please visit http://www.fabulousfox.coand

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