The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is thrilled to bring to Jonesborough audiences the beloved fairy tale of “Cinderella” running Jan.16 through Feb. 9. This Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical, with classic songs such as “Impossible” and “In My Own Little Corner,” is a delightful mix of the traditional story, modern themes, and unexpected consequences.
“This show is not your mother’s Cinderella,” said Joe Gumina (Prince Topher). “While retaining many of the classic fairytale themes, a happy ending, and a magical score, it also introduces new plot twists, adds a few original and exciting characters, and offers an updated message about self-empowerment and chasing your dreams.”
The masterfully written script also emphasizes a central theme of kindness. In all versions of this tale, Cinderella is kind, but in this adaptation, she is bold in spreading that kindness and encouraging others to follow suit.
“I love that the theme of kindness is displayed in a more prominent way in this version,” stressed Brittany Whitson (Cinderella). “I always enjoy stepping into the shoes of a character that stands for something meaningful. Ella (Cinderella’s nickname) maintains a kind spirit, despite being subjected to cruelty from her stepfamily. Kindness, no matter the circumstances of your life, is so important and necessary. This show gives us hope that kindness and humility always prevail.”
One unlikely character who is particularly influenced by the kindness of Cinderella is her stepsister Gabrielle, played by Lorrie Anderson.
“Gabrielle wants to be gracious and kind,” explained Anderson. “She sees the wrong in situations brought on by her mother and sister toward Cinderella and people in general. All in all, Gabrielle is vastly different from the stepsisters people are used to with the traditional story, and her character adds an interesting layer to the story.”
On the other end of the spectrum from Gabrielle is Sebastian (Shawn Hale), someone who doesn’t comprehend the kindness that Cinderella is passionate about. He understands power and control. The idea of kindness is foreign to him.
“Sebastian is the right-hand man of the prince,” said Hale. “He has taken care of the kingdom and the prince since the death of the king and queen, and he has every intention of keeping that power in his own hands. He has his position in mind above everything else.”
Unbeknownst to the prince, Sebastian is breeding social injustice in the kingdom. Thus, another new character, Jean-Michel (Alex Campbell), emerges to fight for the rights of the people, which takes this version of Cinderella to a whole new level.
The director, Pam Johnson, said this about the multiple dimensions of this show: “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway version is the classic Cinderella story, with a sprinkle of Monty Python, a dab of Newsies, and a splash of The Princess Bride. It’s magical, funny, inspiring, and imaginative.”
Liz Dollar (Fairy Godmother) sums it up this way: “We tell the familiar tale of a girl going from rags to riches with the help of magic, but the difference is Cinderella is not passively standing by while her wishes are fulfilled. She has to make it happen, and she actively chooses the direction of her dreams. It’s a reminder to us all that we have the power within us to make our lives and the lives of others better.”
If you love the Cinderella story with all the magic and glitz and pretty dresses — but also want to see how singing knights, a selfish vizier, and a fight on corruption fit in—get your tickets soon to experience this show.
Cinderella is written by Douglas Carter Beane, with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. This production is directed by Pam Johnson, assisted by Liz Dollar, choreographed by Jessica Shelton, and music directed by Shelly Mangiacotti. Sponsors are Murphy, Inc; Ignacy Fonberg; Orth Homes; Lynda and Lou Wexler; Ballad Health; and Sonia King/Mary B. Martin.
Rounding out the cast are Angela Benge, Dave Bernhardt, Vanessa Bushell, Will Dollar, Emma Garber, Mika Hoilman, Kate Hollenbeck, Emush Lamb, Charles Landry, Randi Lappin, Bennett Little, Kayla Mangiacotti, Mandy Mangiacotti, Kyle Mason, Tiffany Matthews, Tristan Matthews, Sarah Nipper, Sarah Sanders, Brooklynn Shelton, Jessica Shelton, Ian Shockley, and Kolby Wilson. The production team includes Karen Elb, Bennett Little, Jessie Scarbrough, and Beth Skinner.
Performances are Jan.16 – Feb. 9: Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $17 general admission, $15 for students and seniors. There is a special group rate for parties of 15 or more. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423) 753-1010 or go online to www.jonesboroughtheatre.com. (An interpreted show for the deaf is scheduled for Saturday evening, Feb. 8. Tickets for these blocked seats must be purchased by Jan. 18.)