Highly Recommended **** A funny thing happened on the way to the theater tonight. We were at Petro’s restaurant, right across the street of the Cadillac Palace Theatre, where we were going to see, the 2013 Tony Award winning version of Cinderella,” The Rodger & Hammerstein’s Cinderella”, when our granddaughter, Sarah asked the question, “What happens if Cinderella gets sick?”. We tried to explain the understudy or one of the “swing” performers knows the role and has (hopefully)rehearsed the part. Sure enough, during the opening night performance tonight, Paige Faure, who was doing a wonderful job, evidently took ill and her understudy, Audrey Cardwell took over. This was during the Ball at the end of the first act and although I noticed a slight difference in her voice and her appearance, the overall change was handled seamlessly and with great style. Ms Cardwell, who is a seasoned pro took over the role and made tonight’s performance her own and something very special for the audience. Sarah remarked that she was different even before we were advised of the change.
This version of the story of Cinderella is different from the Disney animated version that many of us grew up with. It was written for television back in 1957 and starred Julie Andrews, who took off from “My Fair Lady” to take on this role. It has evidently been shelved for these years until it was brought back to life, and Broadway, with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane back in 2013. It is a fresh take on the old story. A chambermaid (due to her father’s remarriage and then death) become transformed into a princess. While the basics of the original story are kept, this Cinderella is more than just a pretty face who fits into a glass slipper, she is a bright young lady with smarts enough to see that there are problems in the kingdom that NEED to be resolved.
The score is delightful and while we do not get a “Bibidee Bobidee Boo” , we do get quite a bit of magic as rags become gowns, critters become footmen, mice become horses, and a pumpkin becomes a coach. Our Fairy Godmother, is in reality Crazy Marie (the amazing Kecia Lewis) a street person, so to speak, that is offered warmth by Cinderella and is repaid with the magic of the power of believing. The Prince is deftly handled by Andy Jones, who has been kept away from the reality of his kingdom by his Prime Minister, Sebastian (Blake Hammond). There is havoc in the land with people losing their homes and land due to the cheating ways of Sebastian.
A Villager, Jean-Michel (David Andino, who adds comic touches to the story line, but is also, in reality, the reason that we get to see the best side of Cinderella) convinces Cinderella to bring a book forward and show the Prince just what has happened. This is a special part to the story that is on the stage at The Cadillac Palace. The step-mother (handled well by Beth Glover) and Cinderella’s two step sisters, Gabrielle (the adorable Ashley Park) and Charlotte (the hysterically funny Aymee Garcia) hold fairly true to other versions with the exception that Gabrielle doesn’t want the Prince. She is in love with Jean-Michel and at one point becomes friends with her step-sister, Ella.
The direction by Mark Brokaw is amazingly paced and Josh Rhodes’ choreography wonderful. The set (Anna Louizos) is much nicer than one might expect in a touring show. Many are what are called bus and truck shows where everything has to be able to pack up and move in one day. This set appears to be much better with a wonderful forest where we watch our Prince fight a dragon during the first minutes of the play. The lighting (Kenneth Posner) and sound (Nevin Steinberg) and the costumes (William Ivey Long), in particular the dresses that become gowns, terrific. This is a clean production that is far better than what I anticipated. I watched Sarah’s face during the entire show along with several other youngsters who attended and saw their eyes glowing and smiles galore. There is no doubt that this is a special treat for younger girls (and perhaps some boys, but mainly girls) and a memory that will last in their hearts and souls for many years to come.The song : “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful” is probably the best known from this production, but there were others that caught my eye (and ear)- “A Lovely night”, “Impossible”, “There’s Music In You” (Ms Lewis truly rocks the theater in this one) and “It’s Possible”.
The special effects and puppetry all add to the overall production that keeps us glued to the story as it unfolds in this truly realistic “fairy Tale” that will play in Chicago through the holiday season, ending on January 4th, with performances as follows: at
|Thu, Dec 18:||7:00pm|
|Fri, Dec 19:||7:00pm|
|Sat, Dec 20:||2:00pm & 7:00pm|
|Sun, Dec 21:||2:00pm & 7:00pm|
|Tue, Dec 23:||2:00pm & 7:00pm|
|Wed, Dec 24:||2:00pm|
|Thu, Dec 25:||7:00pm|
|Fri, Dec 26:||7:00pm|
|Sat, Dec 27:||2:00pm & 7:00pm|
|Sun, Dec 28:||2:00pm|
|Tue, Dec 30:||7:00pm|
|Wed, Dec 31:||2:00pm & 7:00pm|
|Thu, Jan 1:||2:00pm|
|Fri, Jan 2:||7:00pm|
|Sat, Jan 3:||2:00pm & 7:00pm|
|Sun, Jan 4:||2:00pm|
Tickets range from $22-$115 and can be purchased at any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, by calling the ticketline at 800-775-7200, at all Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.BroadwayInChiacgo.com
The Cadillac Palace Theatre is located at 151 West Randolph Street ( at LaSalle Street)
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Cinderella”