I’m not sure which pleased me more – the edgy, contemporary take on the Cinderella story, or the rapt attention of my six and a half year old seat mate. Mirvish’s Cinderella is lushly costumed, fast paced, fun and filled with humour that has a multi-generational appeal.
What’s so different about this version? Cinderella (Kaitlyn Davidson) is a modern young woman, dressed in 19th century clothing, who becomes empowered through the timely intervention of her mentor/ fairy godmother “Crazy Marie” (Liz McCartney). At court, Cinderella demonstrates the power of kindness and compassion in a culture that has come to celebrate ridicule. And with a wonderful twist on an age-old story, the handsome prince, Topher (Andy Huntington-Jones), is ‘saved’ by the humble Cinderella. I fear giving away the plot but let me just say that when Act 1 ended with Cinderella running off at midnight wearing both glass slippers, the audience gasped. The lost slipper has always been Cinderella’s calling card.
The principals play their roles with a combination of humility and gusto:
- Cinderella and Prince Topher — gentle and well-intended
- The Wicked Stepmother (Blair Ross) and the Prime-Minister (Blake Hammond)— nasty and scheming
- The Fairy-Godmother — confident and capable
- Charlotte (Amyee Garcia), a wicked step-sister — narcissistic and opportunistic
- Gabrielle (Kimberly Fauré), a not-so-wicked step-sister — friendly and cautious
- Jean Michel (David Andino) — hopeful and almost revolutionary.
The staging is splendid with something always happening. There is a fairy-tale appeal to the forest, the family home, and the palace, and the set changes occur seamlessly. The transformations of pumpkin to carriage and critters to footmen take place before the audience’s eyes. The choreography, verging at times on gymnastics is engaging. The costumes are vivid and lush. And at risk of having you catch something I could not capture, do watch closely for Cinderella’s on-stage quick changes. They are amazing, and as close to magic as the costume designer would have envisioned.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s music and lyrics were new to me. The original production of Cinderella had been designed as a musical for television in 1957 and showcased Julie Andrews. As a Julie Andrews fan, I would say that Kaitlyn Davidson’s voice is a good match. It’s pure and strong. One young woman I spoke with had been expecting the music from the Disney version and was disappointed to not hear ‘Bippity-Boppity-Boo’, however it did not prevent her from enjoying the show which she found “enchanting”.
I am left with one quote from Crazy Marie aka The Fairy God-mother: “If you have a dream, then very soon thereafter you’re going to have to fight for it.” It’s a positive message for all of us, regardless of generation.
Cinderella is playing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre on Yonge Street until January 10, 2016.
See you at the theatre!