Jonathon Mousset and Manna Nichols performing on stage as Prince Christopher and Cinderella respectively. Photo courtesy of Fulton Theatre / Kinectiv
Now playing at the Fulton Theatre is a classic tale of finding true love. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” opened on Nov. 11 and will run through Jan. 2. The plot of the show may be familiar: Cinderella is verbally and emotionally abused by her stepmother, but with the help of a Fairy Godmother, she attends a ball, meets the prince and they fall in love. But you’ve probably never seen a performance like this one.
This is the largest and most magical production in the Fulton Theatre’s history, featuring more than 250 custom and hand-made costumes with a budget of $140,000. Along with the extraordinary costumes, the spectacular production values include an elaborate set and a carriage that transforms from a pumpkin on stage. The carriage was custom created by New York designers for the Fulton.
Inclusiveness and diversity are highlighted in the show, which features a new take on traditional roles like the Fairy Godmother. Played by AnnEliza Canning-Skinner, this Fairy Godmother is not like the old lady you might picture. She’s hip, glamorous, bold—and she even wears pants although they are very spectacular pants. Cinderella, portrayed by Manna Nichols, has the quintessential “Disney princess” voice that helps bring the production to life. Her chemistry with Prince Christopher, played by Jonathan Mousset, was strong and brought validity to the idea that two people could fall in love within minutes of meeting each other.
The Fulton found ways to revive the well-known story. The opening scene, featuring most of the cast as villagers, is visually stunning, from the elaborate costumes to the colorful and realistic set. Another significant scene that stood out includes the garden scene where Cinderella first meets her Fairy Godmother, where the magic comes to life as the Fairy Godmother transforms Cinderella into a princess for the night. The specially-made carriage made quite the impression as it took flight to transport Cinderella to the ball. Another spectacular scene was a giant staircase descending from the back of the stage towards the front, where Cinderella lost her glass slipper as she fled the ball.
There is no doubt this show is spectacular. The costumes, the set and the stage effects were all over the top. It’s a perfect show to take kids and family to, or anyone who loves a love story. Sometimes, the spectacle of the show was just too much. There is a fine line between spectacle that adds to a show and spectacle that distracts, and for this show, the latter was true. For anyone with extensive experience in theater, it’s hard not to see the smoke-and-mirrors effects of this show. If you look behind the costumes and set, there isn’t much there. The show also seemed to focus more on visuals than other aspects; the performance had a rough feel to it, with prolonged silences on stage and many times where actors couldn’t be heard or understood.
The music is a bit dated, even with the songs that were added for the 1997 television production. One standout song is “Stepsister’s Lament,” performed by Carolyn Anne Miller and Kalen Robinson. While both performers were excellent in terms of their stage presence, unfortunately the sound quality was lacking, and it was often hard to understand what they were singing. The plot of the show is also wafer-thin and there isn’t an opportunity to delve into character development.
Overall, however, this is a show worth seeing, if for nothing else than the Broadway-quality of the costumes and set.