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It’s Possible! Cinderella is another SRT hit

The cast and crew of SRT’s production of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella celebrate a magical opening Nov. 2023 SRT Courtesy Photo.jpg

Whether you loved the classic TV broadcast version of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella circa 1965 or missed it entirely Sierra Repertory Theatre’s current production will enchant you.

Now playing through mid-December at SRT’s East Sonora Theatre location (13891 Mono Way), this completely family-friendly show is a pure delight and a stellar example of musical theater at its finest. You may even find yourself remembering songs you didn’t think you knew like: “In My Own Little Corner,” “The Prince Is Giving a Ball,” “Impossible/It’s Possible,” “Ten Minutes Ago,” “There’s Music In You,” and “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful.”

The 1960s TV version helped make stars out of actor and singer/dancer Lesley Ann Warren and the late Stuart Damon of General Hospital fame. The updated 2013 Broadway version, (we are not talking Disney’s Cinderella), features a couple more songs and an adapted storyline by Douglas Carter Beane that updates it for the times and injects a lot of cheeky, fun humor. Among the noteworthy performers who did turns in the Broadway run were Carly Rae Jepson and Fran Drescher as Cinderella and the wicked stepmother.

Cinderella is a happy but restless young woman whose kindness and intelligence endear her to nearly everyone (not to mention all the woodland creatures) in her village except for her wicked stepmother and stepsisters, who seemingly delight in literally, running her ragged. In the updated plot, she learns about injustices in the kingdom and helps the prince see just what is going down. The prince, whose parents have died and left the kingdom in the hands of a villainous regent, who, as the prince’s mentor, has been duping him into signing oppressive legislation that is impoverishing the common folks while expanding the kingdom’s coffers.

Actors Equity Association (AEA) member Camryn Elias is absolutely radiant and even magical in the title role. Audience goers may recall her past work at SRT in Elf: The Musical, Sunday in the Park with George, and Elvis: The Musical. A solid singer and dancer in addition to being an expressive actor, she literally becomes Cinderella and is fun to watch as she learns and grows from her place in her own little corner by the fireplace ashes, enchants her prince, and transforms into a leading advocate for her kingdom.

As Prince Topher, AEA actor Miguel Ragel Wilson is a perfect complement, He last appeared with SRT in its 2019 production of Route 66 and has appeared on many stages as well as on TV as Young Neville Townsend on NBC’s The Blacklist. You can tell he earns a living singing (he also apparently plays piano), and he regularly performs across New York City. He and Elias look, move and interact together in a believably romantic way.

A fairy godmother surprise 

A fun factoid about Marie, the village’s supposed crazy old lady who is really its fairy godmother, is that the role is played by a former director of choirs at Sonora and Summerville High schools. In a grand return to the stage after several years away from it, Madeline Young is warmly ethereal and really outstanding with a voice that is thrilling to hear. Brenda O’Brien, who also doubles as the production’s hair and makeup designer, turns in a delightfully devilish performance as Madame, the evil stepmother.

Jackie Thompson (who appeared in both SRT’s Shrek and The Wizard of Oz) is frankly hilarious  as cruel and selfish stepsister Charlotte. As Gabrielle, the stepsister who turns out to be nice,  Jodi Vaccaro takes on a role as a people’s activist along with her rebel squeeze Jean-Michel, played by SRT 2023 resident company member Christopher Michael. Vaccaro recently moved to Angels Camp so perhaps we will be treated to more appearances in future productions. She has toured nationally in productions of Camelot, and A Christmas Carol.

The whole cast and crew deserves recognition for bringing together a truly wonderful show that is entertaining and heartwarming. SRT regular Ty Smith plays Sebastian, the prince’s untrustworthy regent and Mateo Deangelo is Lord Pinkelton, the kingdom’s town crier and prince’s wingman. They are fun to watch, especially interacting along with ensemble members Mia Mekanjian, Ella C. Gordon, Franca Rosenblatt, Robert Frederick Taylor, Alex Figueroa, and Kevin T. Mazur. All are strong singers and dancers, and youth actors Quinn Igoe and Linda Dorsett, who play Cinderella’s animal friends (and the footman and driver of the pumpkin coach) more than keep up.

Directed by SRT Artistic Director Jerry Lee who also served as the production and projection designer, with choreography by Rebecca Frazier, musical direction by Patrick Burns, scene design by Whitney Lehn Meltz, costumes by Andrew Burns, sound by Tatiana Covington-Parra, lighting by Jonnie Painter, and stage management by Maggie Braun, Cinderella plays through Sunday, Dec. 17 at SRT East Sonora. The show runs two hours and 15 minutes with a 15-minute intermission during which refreshments are available.

Evening performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. with matinees Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m., and Wednesdays at noon. The world premier of the musical Sh-Boom! A Christmas Miracle opens Nov. 30 at SRT’s Fallon House Theatre at Columbia State Historic Park and runs through Dec. 22. For more details and ticket information visit: Check out our Theatre section here.