Opera House Players to present 'Cinderella'

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Broad Brook - posted Mon., Nov. 7, 2011
The cast of the Opera House Players’ ‘Cinderella.’ Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

A timeless classic fairytale will come alive on stage when the Opera House Players present Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” at the Broad Brook Opera House, Nov. 11 through 27.

Directed by Barbara Washer with music direction by Debbie Curylo and choreography by Bryna Kearney, the production will feature a small cast with several local performers from East Windsor, Windsor and Windsor Locks, as well as from the greater Hartford/Springfield area.

“There’s a lot of interesting history in the Cinderella story,” said Washer. For example, she said, some earlier versions featured a lost glove rather than a glass slipper. Additionally, the Brothers Grimm version included some very graphic details. “Ours is based on the French version by Charles Perrault,” Washer added.

As for the music, “the original classic Rodgers and Hammerstein version of 'Cinderella' was created for Julie Andrews, at that time an up and coming star, for a live television production for CBS in March of 1957 that was watched by over 100 million viewers,” said Washer. The production was redone in 1965 featuring Leslie Ann Warren, but Washer said most younger people today are more familiar with either the 1997 remake featuring Brandy, with Whitney Houston portraying her fairy godmother, or the Disney animated version.

Washer said they looked at both the classic “Cinderella” musical score as well as the later “Cinderella Enchanted” version, both of which use all Rodgers and Hammerstein music; however, she decided to go with the classic version for their production.

“The classic version is less dated. It’s more timeless,” Washer said, adding that fairytales are not just fluff, but come from who we are as human beings and teach us about life. “I was not interested in portraying stereotypical or cartoonish characters. I wanted to focus on real people,” she said.

For example, we get to see why the stepmother is so awful. “She was desperate. She lived in a society where there was no male heir and it was financially critical that she be able to marry her daughters off,” said Washer. “It doesn’t excuse her behavior, but we can understand how it can happen in real life.”

This is not to say that there are not any humorous moments. Washer said there is a poignant duet between a loving King and Queen, and a performance by the evil stepsisters called “Step Sisters Lament” that can only be described as hilarious.

“Impossible things are happening every day” - a famous line from the Rodgers and Hammerstein lyrics is an important theme also in the Broad Brook Opera House production, and one of the most difficult parts of the production was figuring out how to make the magic in the story happen on a stage, Washer said.

“I don’t want to give too much away, but you will see a carriage, and you will see some version of transformation,” she said. “And we created two magical characters that are not part of the script that let the audience be part of the magic.”

The theme of magic-making is also embraced in a much more personal way.

“In the story, the fairy godmother pushes Cinderella not to just sit around and hope and mope, but to get up and do something,” said Washer. It’s the reason why the cast and the Opera House Players are partnering with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, providing an opportunity for ticket holders to give to the foundation and make a difference in their community. Part of that giving will include inviting Make-A-Wish families to the production’s full dress rehearsal.

“It’s our way of putting themes into action and for people to really see the magic in their lives,” said Washer.

Tickets for “Cinderella” may be purchased online at www.operahouseplayers.org or by calling the box office at 860-292-6068.

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