Charming New R & H “Cinderella” at CCM

Review by Liz Eichler

Run to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” like it is chiming midnight. This charming new version of the beloved R & H musical is playing March 2-5 only at UC’s College Conservatory of Music. It has a surprising twist–modernizing and fleshing out the relationships, but keeping the songs you love. Directed by Eric Byrd, Choreography by Brandon Kelly, and Musical Direction by Ian Axness, (also Conductor) it is “a lovely night.”

Important Note about “Cinderella” Tickets

CCM’s online ticketing system is down so call 513-556-4183 or JUST SHOW UP and buy tickets in person from the box office in the Patricia Corbett Auditorium. This show deserves to be seen for the Broadway-worthy performances, music and gorgeous design.

Cinderella and the Prince
Cinderella and the Prince at CCM’s R & H Cinderella. Photos by Mark Lyons – Lyons Photography, Inc.

The Plot

After the familiar overture, we meet the brave and beloved young prince Topher (Peter Neureuther) returning from college, fighting dragons with his cadre of loyal tin soldiers. The King and Queen have since died, and Sebastian (Jack D’Angelo) runs the country while the prince is away. He declares it’s time for the prince to marry and ascend the throne, setting off the ball for all the eligible young ladies. This is one of the most successful approaches of this new book, written by Douglas Carter Beane. The show moves from the happily-ever-after-midnight story (which we love) to a story which fleshes out motivations for the main characters. There’s even a new new character–Jean-Michel (Stanislav Przedlack) who is both firebrand and Gabrielle’s secret beau, but does this classic need all of the back story? No.  

Yes, Ella (Sasha Spitz) still lives with her stepmother (Sarah Pansing) and stepsisters Gabrielle (Alloria Frayser) and Charlotte (Julia Yameen). No body shaming, but personality, fashion and society shaming here. The ball features a game called “Ridicule” showing it is a societal issue, not just a step-family issue.  The second act holds the most twists as it takes a superfluous and didactic turn, or is the author saying democracy is just another fairytale? 

Cinderella and stepfamily at CCM's Cinderella.
CCM’s R & H Cinderella. Photos by Mark Lyons – Lyons Photography, Inc.

The Performances

Stealing the show is “Crazy” Marie (Alli Bossart) aka the fairy godmother. She owns the stage in her transformation from crazy old woman to the omnipotent benefactor. Every other key performer is solid, interesting and connects with the audience. You care about the Prince and you see Ella and Topher’s relationship develop. Neurether is a talented singer and can be both regal yet warm. His “Loneliness of Evening” is packed with emotion. 

Spitz is the perfect princess, graceful, beautiful voice, and warm–and you can see her play any other Disney princess as she captures “being nice.”

Yameen is a hoot. She gleefully captures the “Lena Lamont” qualities of stepsister Charlotte and has solid comedic skills. “Stepsister’s Lament” is hers alone–with a chorus.  Frayser as stepsister Gabriel sweetly portrays her character’s new story arc, and beau Jean-Michel is well interpreted by Przedlack.

D’Angelo as Sebastian deliciously drips sarcasm, and channels royalty by proxy. A fun performance! As the herald, Lord Pikleton, Jackson Reagin clearly enjoys this snarky role. 

The Ensemble is great. “Now is the Time/The Prince is Giving a Ball” and all the ballroom dancing highlight CCM’s rich bench of talent. There’s a lot of acrobatic dancing throughout, especially with the hijinx of the search for Ella after the ball.  The Ensemble includes Lucy Acuna, Ryan Behan, Essence Bell, Jett Blackorby, Amanda Bishop, Andrew Burke, Benjamin Cheng, Josh Devine, Ryan Dever, Nate Jones, Zoey Johnson, Dan Klimko, James Thomas Langlas, Eliza Levy, Rose Messenger, Gracie Parker, Nick Pattarini, Makayla Shipe, Abby Tucker, and Haley Root.

Cinderella and Fairy Godmother
CCM’s R & H Cinderella. Photos by Mark Lyons – Lyons Photography, Inc.

Production Team for “Cinderella”

The well played and peppy orchestration by Danny Troob really gives the percussionist a workout with chimes, bells, hooves, and more. There are 20 musicians in the pit providing quite a full sound. Musical Adaptations and Arrangements are by David Chase and additional lyrics by Chase, Beane and Bruce Pomahac.

Props, set and costumes reflect grandeur and fantasy in golds, silver, pink and red. Scenic Designer is Abigail Heyd, Lighting Designer is Jessica Drayton, Costume Designer is Elizabeth Payne and Wig & Make-Up Designer is Colin Gallaher. Sound Designer is Alena Milos and Emma King is the Production Stage Manager. (This show is a lot to manage!)

Costumes shine with the uniformity of Topher’s tin soldiers, Crazy Marie’s transformation, and the brocade ball gowns with swirling watteau backs, and red-heeled shoes. It is a bit heavy on the “hazy heavens” (there are warning signs throughout the lobby about the fog). Occasionally the vibrant colors of the set and lighting cancel each other out, but everyone is learning at CCM.

Kudos to the carriage turning on stage. That is a thrill and deserves the applause, as do the uncredited puppets and puppeteers.

CCM's R & H Cinderella
CCM’s R & H Cinderella. Photos by Mark Lyons – Lyons Photography, Inc.


Cinderella is perfect for audiences of all ages, no magical ball gowns needed.  Again, head to the Box Office at Corbett Theatre or CALL 513-556-4183 for tickets the this charming production. You may use credit-card over the phone or cash or check in person. Click HERE for more info.

See any typos? Please email me.

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