We could all use a fairy godmother from time to time. A little wave of the wand, a sweetly sung “Bibbidi bobbidi boo,” and poof: A seemingly hopeless situation transforms into a fairy tale ending. After over a year of COVID-19 restrictions and curve balls for live entertainment, the high school-aged cast of “Cinderella” will present three live performances of the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein musical this weekend, offering a welcome sprinkle of fairy dust for those who’ve missed the magic of live theater.
On Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., as well as Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m., the Sheridan Arts Foundation’s Young People’s Theater will enchant audiences at the historic Sheridan Opera House with the classic tale of the pure hearted young woman who overcomes the oppression of her evil step family to achieve everlasting love. Tickets are on sale through the Sheridan Opera House website at sheridanoperahouse.com for $25 each, with Sunday’s matinee offering $10 tickets to children under 10. A special “meet and greet” with Cinderella will take place before the show at 1:30 p.m., where children can talk with the young princess, played by Mariposa Boyd, and receive complimentary tokens like wands and crowns.
While versions of the Cinderella folktale extend back hundreds of years, the 1957 debut of the Rodgers and Hammerstein original musical, starring Julie Andrews as Cinderella, marked the first of a handful of musical versions made for TV. The 1997 “enchanted” edition, as it’s known, starred Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as her fairy godmother. That’s the version director Leah Heidenreich chose for the Young People’s Theater production, in part for the edition’s revisionist angle on the traditional fairytale story in which the damsel in distress is rescued by the dashing prince and whisked away to eternal marital bliss.
“Cinderella is not just a poor damsel in this particular version,” Heidenreich noted. “The fairy godmother has this big moment with Cinderella to help her understand that if she wants to change her life then she has to take control of it. If she doesn’t want to just be this helpless servant who is mistreated, then she has to stand up for herself.”
When Cinderella embraces her own agency to pursue her dream of attending the ball, Heienreich said, that’s when the fairy godmother rewards her with assistance in the form of a dazzling gown, pumpkin-cum-carriage and, of course, perfectly fitted glass slippers.
“She basically tells Cinderella, ‘If you want to change your life, girl, then do something about it,’” Heidenreich said.
At its core, the musical offers a timeless tale of love, redemption and magic, a story Brandy herself has said “brings love to everybody’s lives.” That infusion of love and magic through the storytelling of live community theater is all the more magical for the challenges overcome by the cast and crew of the show over the course of production. The show was originally slated for late February, but was postponed due to the realities imposed by COVID-19.
Despite less rehearsal time, repeated rescheduling and the demanding time of the school year that the students of the cast are now in, the 12-person cast has pulled off a feat of theater that is “frankly beyond what most adults could pull off,” given their simultaneous school workload packed with SATs, finals and other obligations, according to Heidenreich.
“They’ve brought a really beautiful piece of theater to life through being so committed and through so much hard work,” she observed. “And it really shows.”
While seating at the opera house remains limited, groups may purchase seating in pods, with masks required throughout the performance.
“Seeing Cinderella performed by the Young People’s Theater high school students will be such a fun new way to experience this classic fairy tale,” said Maggie Stevens, marketing director for the Sheridan Opera House. “It’s really a great show for the whole family.”