Through December 16|
CINDERELLA The New Phoenix Theatre Company
By Augustine Warner
When you review theater, you can judge by the quality of the cast or the set or even the basics of the script for the production.
Seldom, do you get a chance to judge a show by the audience reaction.
For the New Phoenix Theatre production of “Cinderella,” you get a chance to look at the audience because of the way director Kelli Bocock-Natale has laid out the seats in a theater with few permanent seats.
She’s working with the theater stage and an area on the floor flanked by seats.
There was a young girl, perhaps eight or nine, sitting in the front row on the floor and she was entranced by the show, as were the adults in the audience.
Bocock-Natale did something a little different with this holiday show, structuring it more as a British “panto,” with low humor and a lot of drag, helped along by Eric Michael Rawski’s wicked stepmother Lady Tremaine and her two daughters.
When Ella (Jamie Nablo) loses her loved mother, Father (Jeremy Kreuzer), her merchant-traveler parent meets and marries Lady Tremaine and brings her and her daughters Anastasia (Sean Murphy) and Drucilla (Michael Wachowiak) into Ella’s home.
They take over and when Father is lost on a trading trip, Ella becomes their servant in her home and eventually becomes Cinderella because she is dirty and worn by her role as the house servant.
You could see the body language in the young girl in the front seat as she disapproved of how Ella was treated.
Bocock-Natale has told the story in such a way that the Prince (Alejandro Gomez) has actually met Cinderella well before the great ball, instead in the forest near her home and she runs away quickly.
The king (Caitlin Coleman) knows he’s running out of his life and wants the Prince married off before he becomes king and his son isn’t enthused about the marriage possibilities among the princesses on call.
That brings the ball, where Lady Tremaine wants to ease the financial pressures by marrying one of her greedy daughters off to the Prince.
The Prince has promised to marry one of the princesses on offer unless he finds someone at the ball.
Obviously, you know the story, the Fairy Godmother (Coleman), the mice, the pumpkin and the glass slippers.
You could see the little girl leaning ever more forward as the story swirls in front of her, all the while told by the Narrator (Ray Boucher).
The Prince’s closest friend, the Captain (Daniel Williams) is venal enough to take a payoff to ensure the marriage to one of the daughters.
Then, suddenly the belle of the ball is gone and the prince starts looking for the mysterious young woman he has fallen for.
Again, you know the story.
The young girl in the front row could barely keep herself in her seat as the story wound up in the classic way, with Prince and Cinderella in it for the long haul.
“Cinderella” is a familiar story with familiar characters from French literature and the dreams of young girls and, of course, Disney animation.
Bocock-Natale has a strong cast, wearing her costumes, especially Boucher, Nablo and Rawski and a workable set from Andrew Hayes to tell the story.
If you are looking for entertainment, especially for a young person, “Cinderella” is the way to go.
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