Cinderella by Haverford High School in Havertown, PA
March 19, 2019
Review submitted by Katrina Conklin of Baldwin School
In Cinderella’s world, miracles can happen: peasants can become princesses, pumpkins can become carriages, but most importantly, corrupt systems of government can be mended. In Haverford High School’s production of the classic tale, these miracles came to life before the audience’s eyes.
With music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Cinderella the musical expands upon the famous story, giving it a modern twist. There are bigger problems than just Cinderella not having a dress: the government is ruthlessly stripping the poor of their land, and Prince Topher remains oblivious. “Ella” must use her magic not solely for her own benefit, but for the benefit of the whole country, putting her famous kindness to the test.
Cinderella was delightful in every regard. The kingdom-sized cast maintained high spirits and riveting authenticity throughout the entire production, transforming the timeless fairytale into a reality
Abby Kesselman’s depiction of Ella was vocally mesmerizing; her faultless high notes and angelic melodies could not have been more fit for a princess. Equal in musicality was Jack O’Leary as Prince Topher, whose valiant portrayal gave a refreshing depth to the typically one-dimensional “prince charming” archetype. The two leads displayed convincing chemistry onstage, giving the term “power couple” a new meaning.
Another major standout was Sam Isle as revolutionary Jean Michel whose affability and charisma was infectious, even if he needed to improvise when faced with a technical difficulty. By far the most humorous performance came from Tommy Barnes’s Sebastian, who utilized the perfect amount of exaggeration and ridiculousness to portray the greedy chancellor. And of course, Cinderella’s story wouldn’t be complete without her fairy godmother, performed beautifully by Pammie Cobaugh. She captured her character’s elegance and warmth, as well as the eccentric charm of Marie’s disguised persona.
Technical highlights included the intricate and abundant props by Amanda Carano and Shannon Kaercher which ranged from large royal scrolls to a plump plush pumpkin. The costume team tackled the challenge of dressing the cast in ballgowns and formalwear, amplifying the performance’s enchanting atmosphere. The execution of Cinderella’s magical transformations, reliant on skillfully designed two-part costumes, was impressively seamless. The predominantly student orchestra carried the performance through, shining in standout numbers “A Lovely Night,” and “Ten Minutes Ago.”
It takes great skill and effort to revitalize such an age-old narrative, and Haverford High School did so to create what was much more than just a “lovely” night.
Review submitted by Aurelle Odhner of Academy of the New Church
Hear ye, hear ye! Haverford High School is giving a performance of Cinderella! All are invited to come witness the magic and romance of this spectacular show. With soaring songs, dazzling dances, captivating costumes, and much more, an evening spent watching this musical is sure to be “A Lovely Night.”
Rodgers and Hammerstein, the famous musical-theatre-writing duo, wrote their own version of the timeless story of Cinderella which was brought to life on the stage of Haverford High School. Drawing from the French tale penned by Charles Perrault, these musicians combined the classic elements of a pumpkin carriage, a cruel stepmother, and pure glass slippers with their own delightful music. They tell the story of how kind, gentle Ella goes from a miserable maid to the belle of the ball, dancing the night away with the Prince. Her journey of transformation and self-discovery is as universal as the tale of Cinderella itself.
Haverford High School brought enchanting vocals to the songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein, along with spirited dancing. The large ensemble responded well to each other and always seemed to be having a ball, while the leads and soloists provided astonishing talent. Perhaps the most magical moments however, came from the student-designed costumes. On three separate occasions, tattered garments were transformed onstage into shimmering gowns.
Abby Kesselman shone in the title role, with a voice as movingly sweet as her personality. Her charming prince, Jack O’Leary, was an equally powerful singer, and their heart-wrenching harmonies filled the room in numbers such as “Loneliness of Evening.” Krystyna Barr demonstrated great depth of character as Gabrielle, while her sister Charlotte, played by Noel Guidetti, added continual comic relief with her amusing physicality and expression. Tommy Barnes also stood out for his dramatic portrayal of Sebastian.
The chorus was a source of focused energy for most of the show. Their excitement was contagious in “The Prince Is Giving A Ball.” Two dancers in particular, Jack Drennen and Alex Lambert, gave consistently astonishing performances as the Fox Footman and Raccoon Coachman. Their nimble footwork and impressive gymnastics drew audible gasps from the audience.
The production benefited from a strong, primarily student orchestra, led by senior Dylan Hincka. Their professional sound and lively playing created the perfect support for those onstage. The marketing and publicity team, headed by Annajean Gionta and Chloe Calamaro, also showed a high level of professionality with elegant posters, quality videos, and extensive media networking, all while respecting the confines of their theatre contract.
“It’s Possible” that Haverford High School had the help of a fairy godmother in creating this stunning performance of Cinderella, but in this case the magic and catchy tunes linger with the audience long after midnight.