Last Friday, Peg and I visited Tacoma Musical Playhouse to see Cinderella (Enchanted Edition). We got there early so we could get our programs, a bottle of water, and two cookies before showtime. We like to look over the program to see who’s in the cast, any notes from the director, upcoming shows, and check out the supporting backers and advertisers. We weren’t disappointed. We spotted Sam Barker (Lionel) who we had seen in “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.” We reviewed both. However, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” got a review based on the dress rehearsal. In never opened due to COVID closures. It’s coming back for its 2022 run (March 18 – April 10).
We also spotted Robin Mae Becar (Stepsister Grace). We’ve already seen her in two productions this season: The Importance of Being Earnest (CenterStage), and Clue: On Stage (Tacoma Little Theatre). Jonathan Bill (King Maximillian) whom we’ve seen numerous times at TMP. Kawika Huston (Prince Christopher) we had seen in one of our favorite local productions, Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Tacoma Little Theatre). Lanita Hudson Walters (Fairy Godmother) showed her pipes in “All Shook Up”, starting off the play season for TMP.
Director Harry Turpin likes the Enchanted version of the classic story of Cinderella and all the possibilities it brings to the stage. ” . . . doing this show with this cast reminds us that it is possible to change what the story of Cinderella looks like, ‘It is possible to reflect on the past and reshape the future. It is possible to provide performance opportunities that reflect the reality of the world around us in an ever-changing and evolving landscape.’”
It was nice to see supporters like Edward Jones (Jason Light, Financial Advisor from University Place), Heritage Distilling Co., three of our favorite local restaurants: Joeseppi’s, Southern Kitchen, and Macaluso’s and a number of other backers from Tacoma helping TMP.
The prolog is given by the Fairy God Mother (Lanita Hudson Walters) and the story began. Prince Christopher (Kawika Huston), not in his princely clothes, visits the busy heart of the realm. He bumps into Cinderella (Ania Briggs), who is on a shopping trip for her Step Mother and Step Sisters. The prince is free to dream, while Cinderella is not free from her world of work and degradation at the hands of her step relatives.
Being a prince doesn’t mean freedom. Lionel, the head toady for Queen Constantina (Deanna Martinez) is distributing invitations to a ball. The Queen wants the prince to be married and to do his duty (produce an heir). Prince Christopher knows nothing about her plans for the ball and his future.
The townspeople are excited and dance for joy. Who knows what could happen at a ball where every maiden is invited?
The king (Jonathan Bill) and queen (Deanna Martinez) talk about the ball, their son, and what’s good for their country. Like all fairy tales, the husband gives in to his wife’s demands.
Cinderella’s step-mother and her daughters make sure that Cinderella has no options but to continue working. When we see Cinderella doing her chores, we see the animals visiting her and brightening up her day. They are sooooo cute and even show up for applause at the end of the musical.
People at the ball had a great time dancing and so do the performers. One of the great things about Tacoma Musical Playhouse is the size and the depth of the stage. It’s ideal for lots of dancers. It’s enjoyable to watch the smiles on their faces and the spring in their step. In this production TMP also made good use of slides projected on the back of the set to give a feeling of actual location.
The big turning point for Cinderella is meeting her Fairy Godmother. The Fairy Godmother (the powerful singer Lanita Hudson Walters) and Cinderella sing It’s Possible/Impossible and the Fairy Godmother and Cinderella change their clothes in an instant. I think the Fairy Godmother wins the contest in clothes, but that’s another matter. The Fairy Godmother transforms Cinderella’s friendly creatures to white horses and livery servants. One little piece of tap dancing by the horses made our day – very nicely done.
As the story goes, the prince falls in love with Cinderella, who leaves behind her glass slipper in her rush to get out of the castle before midnight, but leaves no information on who she is or where she’s from. Lionel searches for the foot that fits the glass slipper and ends with Cinderella’s step sisters. The step sisters were a hilarious boost to the production. They are catty, funny . . . and a delight to see.
The production runs through December 19th – tmp.org
I don’t know if the adults or the children in the audience enjoyed the production more. The standing ovation included all ages. The smiles on the faces in both the audience and on the stage said it all.