Last night my eight-year-old daughter Lola and I were lucky enough to attend Broadway Across Canada’s musical production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. This Tony Award-winning Broadway musical is currently playing at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre from October 25th until October 30th.
Having attended a Broadway Across Canada performance before, I knew to expect all of the fabulousness of a New York Broadway play, without the daunting price tag and airfare. These shows, while delightful for adults, are also the perfect way to introduce children to the theatre.
Upon arriving to the performance I realized that neither of us were familiar with this particular version of the Cinderella story, originally written for the 1957 television classic starring Julie Andrews. The mystery and anticipation made our experience equivalent to slowly opening a most beautiful gift.
And the stage was set! Artfully constructed trees positioned to create a forest were waiting to greet their captive audience. As the show came to life, professional lighting techniques made the woods appear to be deep, realistic and even a little spooky.
Seamless transitions in set and costume changes turned the stage into a magic show of sorts. On more than one occasion, a whirling trick or effect produced an audible gasp of delight from the crowd.
Stunning costumes, in a rainbow of bright colours, were even more visually pleasing once set into motion by a variety of expert dance routines. Performers sang and danced to classics including “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible/It’s Possible” and “Ten Minutes Ago”.
This version of Cinderella is perhaps so satisfying because it includes all of the requisite musts, such as the pumpkin to coach, fairy godmother and glass slippers but also adds some modern twists. The younger cast members appear as idealist academics on a quest for meaning, justice and purpose interacting with elders trying to shape their paths. The humor is suited to little ears but potent enough to make adults laugh out loud.
Messages of kindness, confidence and the importance of following your dreams abound. Ella is a strong young woman who uses intelligence to guide her prince as they join forces to make the world a better more equal place.
Lola and I could not decide which cast member was our favorite. There simply were too many choices. She eventually chose Ella, played by Tatyana Lubov, as she reminded her of Anna Kendrick in voice and talent. I am always a sucker for the stepsisters and they did not disappoint. Although both were transfixing, Charlotte, played by Joanna Johnson, won my heart.
Looking around the audience, it was easy to see that this performance of Cinderella is suited to all, regardless of age or gender. We left the theatre thoroughly satisfied and bubbling over with delight. But don’t just take it from us. Here is what a few of our seatmates said!
“I loved it! I recognized the music, love the costumes and the sets.” (Emily, age 20)
“This is not normally my thing but I brought my wife and she is really enjoying it. She is a big Cinderella fan, has a glass shoe and everything, and I am really loving the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein.” (Paul, age 50)
“We are enjoying the twists and modern feel of the performance. It is really cool how fast the transitions are and how everything happens on stage.” (High School Students)
“I just really loved the Ball…” (Rachel, age 5)
Life in Pleasantville would like to thank Broadway Across Canada for the invite to attend Cinderella. All opinions expressed are those of the author.