A talented cast brings the classic fairy tale story of "Cinderella" to life at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and leaves audience members believing that there is no such thing as "impossible".
Local actress Jessica Fredrickson stars as "Cinderella" but the entire cast from principles to ensemble members to puppeteers shines brightly from start to finish. Personally, I had never seen a stage version of "Cinderella" before. Of course I've seen the classic Walt Disney film. And I have fond memories of watching the 1997 Rodgers and Hammerstein's television remake with my mother and sister but nothing compares to watching the story unfold live on stage.
Before attending the show I wondered how the production would make the magical moments happen on stage. Particularly the beautiful moment when the Fairy Godmother (Tonia Hughes) makes Cinderella's dreams come true before the Prince's ball. I won't give away any secrets, but let's just say quick changes, creative lighting and perfect execution make everything happen seamlessly.
In addition to Fredrickson's amazing performance as the title character, along with the talented Jeremiah James as Prince Christopher, several other characters also stood out during the show. Stepsisters Grace and Joy, played by Colleen Somerville and Andrea Wollenberg respectively, provided some great comic relief throughout the performance. Instead of being portrayed as evil villains, like the characters were in the Disney original, Somerville and Wollenberg's antics leave audiences laughing. The timing, the interactions with each other and various little quirks made me look forward to their next scene on stage.
Prior to the show I had the opportunity to speak with two of the cast members. Gary Briggle plays the King and Wendy Lehr the queen, but a little tidbit some audience members likely don't know is that they're life partners as well. "We play the King and Queen, and we're like the King and Queen at home too" said Lehr who admitted to being a bit nervous when she has to sing on stage but says having Briggle by her side helps her relax. The couple has been in several productions together, but Lehr says being able to play opposite each other has been a great experience. "Usually there's that awkward part at first where you have to act intimate with someone who is often times a stranger, but here we can just bypass that step and be ourselves." "We love each other both on and off-stage" added Briggle. The couple was delightful to speak with, so I was looking forward to seeing them on stage. They definitely did not disappoint.
During intermission I noticed all the families in the audience. "Cinderella" fans of all ages, some of which even dressed up as their favorite "princess" for the show. As Lehr and Briggle told me, it's a great show for the holiday season. It reminds us that dreams really do come true, magical things can happen and "impossible things are happening every day".
So whether you're young or old, a theater buff or a person just looking for something to do this holiday season, do yourself a favor and check out the Ordway's production of "Cinderella". The show runs through January 1st at the Ordway Theater in St. Paul.
For tickets visit the Ordway's website at http://ordway.org