Chicago Theatre Review
Girl Power Comes to Storybook Land
Cinderella: After the Ball – Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences
Once upon a time Cinderella slipped into a pair of fancy glass slippers, went to a ball at the palace and met her Prince Charming. Then she lived happily ever after…right? Well, maybe not quite. That might’ve been the way most children imagine the fairy tale to have ended, but playwright Eddie Sugarman revisits Storybook Land, creating a witty, colorful, contemporary new look at Cindy and her Prince on the day after the ball. With a cheerful, catchy pop/rock score by Jihwan Kim, and enthusiastically directed by Jeff Award nominee Scott Weinstein, this new musical is funny, flashy and offers a meaningful message for both kids and their parents.
The former scullery maid has a lot to get used to, now that the ball is over. Wedding plans are ramping up faster than Cinderella can comprehend them. She’s being given a challenging crash course in how to act like a royal princess. Then there’s the ever-present problem of the King and his prime minister, who patronize and look down on Cindy because of her peasant background. Worst of all Chris, Cindy’s handsome Prince, simply doesn’t appear all that interested in her or helping with the wedding. So Cinderella finds some much needed friendship with Becky, the put-upon palace servant. Together with her two besties, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty, the four girls attend a protest rally in the town square, led by Pinocchio and his gang. However, what the girls don’t realize, until it’s too late, is that the little wooden boy has turned rotten. The malicious marionette captures Cinderella and holds her for ransom. Suddenly it becomes clear that the only way to rescue the princess is through unified Girl Power.
Scott Weinstein’s thoroughly entertaining production stars Marriott’s eternal princess, Dara Cameron, as Cinderella. Ms. Cameron, who’s enchanted in most of Marriott’s theatre for young audience productions, is the perfect princess for this story. Spunky, sweet-tempered and sympathetic to everyone around her, Ms. Cameron’s Cindy is a modern mademoiselle who discovers that bravery and strength lies in true friendship. Lovely, ultra-talented Laura Savage is a pint-size powerhouse as Rapunzel, wrapped in an cavernous caramel-colored coiffure; and the brilliant, bouncy Samantha Pauly is flat-out hysterical as a narcoleptic, Valley Girl-like Sleeping Beauty. The brilliant and beautiful Elizabeth Telford is buoyant and brave as Becky, the working girl holding down a total of nine jobs, just to make ends meet. Together these ladies unite to bring peace to the kingdom and save the day.
The versatile supporting cast, all of whom are terrific, play several roles. They include the wonderfully adept, handsome Devin DeSantis as Prince Chris, the capable Justin Brill as Pinocchio, an unbelievably agile and animated Rob Rahn as the King, the masterful Jeff Max as a mincing, musical theatre-loving Dragon, the gifted Anne Gunn as the Fairy Godmother and the always brilliant Harter Clingman as the bully, Herman.
Thomas M. Ryan’s ecclesiastical scenic design for “Sister Act,” Marriott’s current main stage musical, works surprisingly well for this fairy tale. Lit with color and flash, the audience feels as if they’ve been transported to a luxurious castle. Nancy Missimi’s beautiful, bright-hued costumes dazzle and delight, especially her shiny, green dragon ensemble and her quartet of sparkling princess superhero outfits. The designer has created an old-fashioned fairy tale that sports a modern look, like a Disney classic with a contemporary feel.
Laced with the latest lingo, with some red-hot references to contemporary culture, Eddie Sugarman and Jihwan Kim’s new musical shimmers with charm, color and offers a meaningful lesson about friendship and valor. This brand new show is a big hit with all ages. It’s new and refreshing, while still based upon some old favorite characters and stories. Scott Weinstein’s production electrifies and scintillates with winning characters and toe-tapping songs, all accompanied by Patti Garwood’s musical combo. Girl Power has truly come to Storybook Land.
Reviewed by Colin Douglas
Presented March 3-May 8 by the Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, IL.
Tickets are available by calling 847-634-0200 or by going to www.MarriottTheatre.com.
Additional information about this and other fine area productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com