Cinderella -The National Tour

Music by Richard Rodgerscinderella logo14

Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

New Book by Douglas Carter Beane

Original Book by Oscar Hammerstein II

Directed by mark Brokaw

Choreographed by Josh Rhodes

At the Palace Theatre, Chicago

Stunning production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella graces Chicago for the holidays

palace theatre

Cinderella is, by far, the finest National Touring Equity musical to grace a Chicago stage in years! It is a wonderful, beautifully staged and a gorgeously presented musical. It has all the elements of a fabulous family experience: a marvelous, lush score by Richard Rodgers with the smart lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. It has eye-popping sets and costumes (set design by  Anna Louizos, costumes by William Ivey Long). It has a new book by Douglas Carter Beane that updates and adds heart to Hammerstein’s fable.

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But, the magic of this production lies in the staging. Director Mark Brokaw quickly engages us into the fairy tale as we become enamored by Ella’s (aka Cinderella) sweetness as she struggles to care for her mother and step sisters. Both Paige Faure in act one and understudy Audrey Cardwell in act two (Faure fell ill?) delivered the role of Ella with grace, humility, and enough sweetness to please. With the help of the crazy old woman, who Ella cares for, Ella is transformed to attend the Prince’s ball in a breathtakingly colorful scene that exemplifies the fine production qualities of this musical. Kecia Lewis is terrific as the Fairy Godmother as she both helps Ella as well as flies across the stage. She reward Ella (Cinderella) for her courage, kindness, and believing that, indeed, anything is possible if you believe in yourself. That duet, “Impossible/It’s Possible” is a memorable  ‘take-home’ song that kids will remember.

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One of the best changes made in the story of Cinderella is how the Prince is portrayed. Here Andy Jones presents him as a likable, shy, naive young man who is under the spell of his prime minister, Sebastian (former Chicagoan Blake Hammond). We like the Prince’s goodness since he has the basic qualities of an enlightened monarch who strives to do the right thing for his subjects.

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Cinderella’s pageantry and spectacle is nicely presented in several exquisite showstoppers that are filled with gorgeous choreography:  “The Prince is Giving a Ball” and the lush “Ten Minutes Age” and the “Cinderella Waltz.” The sheer beauty of these scenes are eye-candy.

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The show  move swiftly as it mixes contemporary one-liners into the folk tale of the poor girl finally meeting her prince charming.  In this production, the voices are legitimate, especially from Kecia Lewis, and Antoine L. Smith as Lord Pinkleton.  Aynee Garcia was hoot as the outspoken plus-sized sister.

The look, the fairy tale atmosphere and the lush Rodger’s music upon the sweet Hammerstein lyrics and the rich voices with the stylish dances make this romantic fairy tale a wonderful holiday family treat. With Newsies down the Randolph street from Cinderella, Broadway In Chicago both boys and girls covered for the holidays. I’d advise seeing both terrific shows.

I might add that Cinderella is a prime example of the entertainment qualities offered when producers don’t try to skimp by casting non-Equity and non-union artists simply to make money. Disney and the producers of Cinderella get it -produce high quality touring  shows (like this fabulous Cinderella) and audiences will come. The enthusiastic opening night audience cheered  loudly in recognition of the spectacular show they just witnessed. Hurry, you only have until January 4, 2015 to see this special production.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: December 17, 2014

For more info checkout the Cinderella page at theatreinchicago.com

At the Palace Theatre,  151 W. Randolph, Chicago, IL, call 800-775-2000,  for show times and dates: www.broadwayinchicago.com, tickets $22 – $115, running time is 2 hours, 10 minutes with intermission, through January 15, 2015