Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella by Marple Newtown High School in Newtown Square, PA
March 11, 2020
Review submitted by Patrick McCann of Harriton High School
Come one, come all! Marple Newtown High School is throwing a ball, and you’re all invited for a night of stunning vocals, jaw-dropping costumes, and breathtaking choreography!
This weekend, Marple Newtown High School put on an upbeat production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. The show follows kindhearted servant Ella, who has been forced into servitude by the cruel Madame. At first, Ella is resigned to a life spent fantasizing in her own little corner. But after an encounter with the magical Marie, Ella allows herself to dream big, courting powerful Prince Topher while opening his eyes to the rampant suffering in his kingdom.
The backbone of Marple Newtown’s production was its gorgeous technical elements, which were vital in capturing the show’s fantastical setting. The cast breathed life into this fantasy setting with their infectiously energetic vocals and dancing.
Amanda Reed led the cast as the selfless Ella, masterfully capturing her character’s transition from a “plain country bumpkin” to a powerful champion of the oppressed. Reed delivered beautiful vocals in songs like “Ten Minutes Ago” and managed to perform the difficult choreography in “The Pursuit” despite being in a ball gown and heels. Feliks Kocibelli starred opposite her as the winsome Prince Topher, convincingly showing his character’s internal struggle.
Arianna Berryman stole the show with her portrayal of Marie, skillfully depicting both her loony alias and enchanting true identity (Fairy Godmother). Gina DiStefano, who played the bratty Charlotte, left the audience in stitches with her physical humor and dry one-liners. Another standout was Shirley Truong (Madame), who managed to make her character equal parts hilarious and menacing.
A highlight of the show was the varied and skill-appropriate choreography by Eve Turner. Turner choreographed everything from the slapstick fight choreography in “Me, Who Am I” to the elegant ballroom dancing in “Ten Minutes Ago,” all while coordinating the near 100 cast-members on stage. Also impressive was the costuming by Taylor Brekus and Gina DiStefano, who pulled off countless quick-changes and two onstage dress transformations. Leia Bruno and Lizzy Staud’s set incorporated light steampunk elements while still remaining true to the show’s time period. The marketing team of Justin Capoferri and Julia Fallows hosted a “Cinderella Ball” for the children of the community that raised over $1,000 in the process.
With upbeat performances and breathtaking technical elements, Marple Newtown’s production of Cinderella paid tribute to the classic fairytale on which the show is based, reminding the audience that “on the wings of your fancy, you can fly anywhere,” and be anyone you want to be.
Review submitted by Fiona Moser of Agnes Irwin School
Marple Newtown High School’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella made for “a lovely night”! This past weekend, the cast transported audiences into a tale of royalty, romance, and revolution.
Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers first wrote Cinderella for a 1957 television special. Their version followed the rags to riches plot that most of us recognize today. Having opened on Broadway in 2013, Marple Newtown’s iteration includes a modern twist on the familiar story. For example, Ella doesn’t lose her slipper; she leaves it for Prince Topher to find. Ella not only ensnares the prince in the end but also changes her kingdom for the better. This production includes additions to the book by Carter Douglas Beane. It received nine Tony nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical.
The energy and commitment of Marple Newtown’s cast and the detailed technical elements made Cinderella an entertaining and joyous performance.
Amanda Reed as Ella showcased sweet sincerity and radiant vocals. Feliks Kocibelli performed by her side as Topher. His strong vocal ability and unassuming charm made him a likeable addition to the show.
Shirley Truong as Madame had excellent comedic timing. She caused many of the audience’s loudest laughs. Truong, Reed, and the rest of Ella’s stepfamily (Taylor Brekus as Gabrielle and Gina DiStefano as Charlotte) played off of each other well. Their rapport created memorable moments such as “A Lovely Night.” Owen Clark, who portrayed the stalwart revolutionary Jean Michel, rounded off the cast. Brekus and he displayed good chemistry, bouncing hilarious dialogue back and forth. Marple Newtown’s ensemble members added liveliness to each scene in which they appeared. Notable was student Eve Turner’s choreography. She tackled many of the most difficult pieces of the show. Her movements showcased all members of the large cast to the best of their abilities.
Marple Newtown’s set design had beautiful details and allowed for smooth transitions between scenes. A production of Cinderella would be remiss without spectacular costume changes, and Marple Newtown didn’t fail to deliver. The show had three beautifully crafted and magically executed onstage costume changes.
Overall, Marple Newtown’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella was an enjoyable take on this universal tale in which the heroine takes charge of her own destiny.