This enormously entertaining and irreverent comedy delights in crossing barriers, including the one between audience and actors. “Cinderella: A New Telling of an Old Tale” is full of witty and crafty language and in true fairy tale fashion there is of course a happy ending. In this joyous, magical, musical holiday production, goodness triumphs, evil is banished from the Kingdom, the Prince gets his girl - and the girl gets her shoes.
The story of Cinderella has been a treasured folktale for many years; over 300 versions had been collected from all over the world by 1893, including one published in 1697. It also has long been a favorite subject for "pantomime," a form of theater unique to England that employs humor and music to tell a traditional fairy tale. PTC's Cinderella blends English pantomime with the American musical to create a charmingly unique entertainment. This centuries-old story has survived the Industrial Revolution, the Summer of Love and the Information Age, and its heroine is still around knocking slippers with the prince.
Playing Cinderella is Stephanie Colavito, a senior at John Bapst High School who has been involved with PTC's Dramatic Academy for over a decade. She appeared as an ensemble member in last season's “Annie” and was featured in PTC's touring production of “I Am the Brother of Dragons.” According to Artistic Director Bari Newport, "All of us here at PTC have watched Stephanie grow up in one way or another over the years. No one has worked harder or been more dedicated, and we are just so proud that this uber-talented young company member will have the chance to play the title role in this production. She will soar."
Opposite Stephanie as Prince Charming is PTC newcomer and UMaine student Ira Kramer. "I have been looking to cast Ira since I met him two years ago," Newport said. "He is the quintessential Prince Charming. There will be swooning. I guarantee it!"
Cinderella's father, Baron Hardup (Arthur Morison), cannot help his unhappy daughter as he's completely in thrall to his wicked wife, Mrs. Badden-Rotten. "She's so very attractive," he simpers.
The stunning stepmother, the real meat of the show, will be played brilliantly by none other than Dominick Varney. As a cranked-up, camped-up cross between Cruella DeVil and RuPaul, she has one show-stopping number after another and is the character kids and adults alike will most lovingly despise.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree when PTC favorite Ben Layman and New York based, Jesse Havea flounce upon the stage as the two hideous stepsisters. "Part of British Pantomime always includes casting the villainous female characters with male actors. It's all part of the fun," said Newport.
Little Bo Peep (Jasmine Ireland) makes an appearance as a consciousness-raising anti-monarchist. Her sheep, like wooly Rockettes, are played by Abigail Thompson, Kate Fogg, Bronwyn Beardsley Molly Hagerty and Zivi Osher.
As the Fairy Godmother, Tina Burns sings some of the most beautiful numbers and has the power to transform pumpkins into carriages, with magic. The cast also includes Margo Lukens as the Queen, Bob Potts as the King, Charlie Hanscom as a tone-deaf trumpet playing, servant of the court and Logan Bard as Prince Charming's girl-crazy companion, Dandini.
The cast is rounded out by the incomparable Christie Robinson as Buttons, Cinderella's best friend.
There's also a rotund and wonderfully expressive dancing bear.
“Cinderella: A New Telling of an Old Tale” was created for Shakespeare Santa Cruz by Paul Whitworth and Kate Hawley, with music composed and arranged by Gregg Coffin. The show opened to rave reviews in its 1999 world premiere and sold out again in 2000. Newport became familiar with the show when she was on staff at the Sacramento Theatre Company. "This is my father's all-time favorite show," she said. "The script is roaringly funny and accomplishes the difficult task of marrying youthful silliness with mature complexity and irony."
This creative version of the beloved fairy tale is directed and choreographed by PTC Artistic Associate Nathan Halvorson and features extravagantly outlandish costumes by Chicago based Jess Fialko, exuberant lighting by Michelle Caron and spectacular sets by Sean McClelland.
Tickets are $15 for youth under 18 and $30 for adults. Cinderella tickets make excellent holiday gifts. Purchase tickets, subscriptions and gift certificates online at www.penobscottheatre.org or through the Box Office at (207) 942-3333.