Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella by Sun Valley High School in Aston, PA
May 7, 2020
Review submitted by Keagan Richard of Upper Merion Area High School
Sun Valley High School certainly transformed itself into a fairytale during their production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella!
Originally written for television in 1957, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella has reinvented this classic tale. The rags to riches story was first performed on stage in 1985 in London, and since, has had runs in several countries worldwide. In 2013, the charming musical debuted on Broadway, sporting a new book written by Douglas Carter Beane. Receiving praise and nominations from its birth, this show has proven to be a favorite for everyone, young and old.
Overall the show brought the audience into the childhood storybook as soon as the curtains opened. Beautifully constructed sets and backdrops complimented the contagious and dynamic energy of the ensemble, perfectly capturing the fantastical essence the show highly demands.
Chiara Robinson, starring as the show’s namesake, notably wooed audiences with her clear voice and chillingly beautiful vibrato. Conveying Ella’s hope and optimism, Robinson embodied the spirit of the show. Alongside Robinson was Dom Marano as the noble Prince Topher, the caring ruler and eligible bachelor for whom Ella falls for. Marano captured a beguiling quality as a more-than-storybook prince willing to make a difference in his kingdom. With Robinson’s stunning vocals and Marano’s delightful and humorous nature, the pair captivated the audience from the beginning of the show to its happily ever after.
Ella’s stepmother and stepsisters seamlessly added flairs of comedy. Evil through and through, Kerra Johnson’s performance as Madame was characterized by physicality and facial expressions. From sinister pride to flagrant disgust, Johnson’s body language left the audience in stitches with exaggerated movements and memorable reactions. Gabrielle (Ella Peterson) and Charlotte (Victoria Carcillo), Ella’s stepsisters, bolstered Johnson well. Their overall family dynamic brought a new level of enjoyment to the production, especially in their performances in “A Lovely Night” and “Stepsister’s Lament.” The ensemble actively engaged in many of the show’s numbers, pulling the audience deeper into the magic of Sun Valley’s production.
Reinforcing the quality of the show was the remarkable crew work. Led by Ryane Cornog and Evelyn Spayd, the Sun Valley Stage Crew made swift and precise transitions between each scene. Modestly designed set pieces and notable props contributed to the production’s immersive quality. Furthermore, the costumes were all beautiful and unique. Throughout the Prince’s ball, gowns were individualized and tailored in vibrant, luscious fabrics.
Giving new life to a well-known story, Sun Valley High School’s interpretation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is a delight for theater-goers of all ages.
Review submitted by Claire Jenkins of Conestoga High School
Sun Valley High School’s fun and vibrant production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella did not need any fairy godmother to make this show as magical as it was! Sun Valley’s cast and crew brought on all the magic themselves to create a pleasurable take on the well-known tale.
Originally a musical written for television in 1957, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is a show based on the classic French fairy tale. The story follows Ella, a young woman who dreams of a life free from the callous authority of her evil stepmother and egocentric stepsisters. When the royal palace announces a ball for the prince, Ella’s stepmother cruelly refuses to let Ella go. However, with the help of a fairy godmother, Ella attends the ball as a princess, leading her to find her prince, opening his eyes to the inequities within the kingdom, and eventually living happily ever after.
The cast as a whole had a great amount of energy, as each ensemble member was present and enthusiastic throughout the show. Each song performed in this production was full of passion; the cast’s interpretations of the songs immersed viewers into the fairy tale atmosphere. The cast and crew worked extremely hard to create a joyful result.
The title character Cinderella (also known as Ella), portrayed by Chiara Robinson, had a lovely and soothing voice that further contributed to the light-hearted theme of the production. Her kind tone and facial expressions demonstrated a complex understanding of character. Another commendable performance came from Dom Marano as Topher, as he did a fine job portraying the determined prince. The connection between Robinson and Marano was very admirable; their duets were delightful moments in the production, and their voices complimented each other well.
Alexa Rode also had a bright performance as the encouraging fairy godmother Marie. Rode incredibly maintained energy throughout the show while her powerful vocals further developed her uplifting character. Billy Fisher was another lively performer on stage, as he enjoyably played the rebellious Jean-Michele. Madame, played by Kerra Johnson, used hilarious body language to express disgust and anger while interestingly bringing out a comical side of the evil stepmother.
The Sun Valley Stage Crew, under the excellent stage management of Ryane Cornog and Evelyn Spayd, did a great job effortlessly moving set pieces across the stage. Though there were moments when the set changes took some focus away from the story, most of them were executed quietly and flawlessly. There were some sound issues present as well, yet the cast continued to stay in character and project through the complications.
Overall, it was “A Lovely Night” experiencing Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella as Sun Valley High School’s talented students brought the fairy tale to life.