PLAY REVIEW: A dream-like atmosphere created in GHS’s ‘Cinderella’
“Once upon a time” is how all good fairy tales begin and as the story unfolds, all of the other elements of a good story — a beautiful princess, a handsome prince, a horse-drawn carriage — are woven into the tale. The purpose is to make every little girl’s dream come true before reaching “…and they all lived happily ever after.”
“All the special effects along with singing and dancing make it a very complicated show,” stage director Ruth Hansen said. “Back in January, we began to look at this senior class and try to find a story that would feature more than two or three or four stars. We knew we had some very strong female voices, and some good male voices as well, but wanted to find something that opportunity to bring in a lot of kids and let them have a chance to be involved as well,.”
The range of voices, acting abilities and the physical appearance of the actors, all fall into place to assign roles, she said.
“We liked ‘Cinderella’ because it is a show for everyone,” assistant director Joel Van Houten said. “It is a fairy tale story with a lot of subtle messages of ‘you can be whatever you want to be.’”
A sparkly Fairy Godmother, portrayed with beauty and grace by Taylor Hedrick, narrates and sings in a prologue, encouraging the audience that ‘You can do whatever you want to do, you can be whatever you want to be.”
Most of the cast comes on the stage in scene one, introducing the audience to the dynamo voices of Cinderella (Lizzy VanderLaan) and Prince Christopher (Jonah Hitching) as they sing “The Sweetest Sounds.”
The costumes, props and dramatic backdrops show the audience immediately that they are in for a treat.
The hours of practice show through in the choreography, especially a dance number featuring the male actors in the town square.
The townspeople are excited to hear their prince is having a ball, and immediately they begin to dream of it.
Cinderella’s family is no exception.
Emily Smith woos the audience with the role of the Stepmother, playing off the comedic antics of the stepdaughters Grace (Meagan Draper) and Joy (Brianna Van Houten). They order Cinderella around, and make it clear she could not possibly go to the dance.
With the help of puppeteers, Cinderella sings “In My Own Little Corner” to her animal friends, dreaming of what the ball will be like — for everyone else.
Though they are secondary roles, Skye Hayes and Macy Risch do a royal job as King Maximillian and Queen Constantina, blending their voices well in “Boys and Girls Like You and Me.”
“I don’t know why you are giving this ball,” Prince Christopher said. “I had this old-fashioned idea that I would fall in love before I got married.”
Cinderella and the Prince then simultaneously sing a quodlibet, blending different lyrics into one captivating piece.
VanderLaan and Hedrick work well on stage together in the beautiful pumpkin patch scene, transforming a pumpkin into a carriage and a plain Cinderella into a dazzling princess in a matter of minutes.
Quick scene changes throughout the performance are outstanding, changing easily from a pumpkin patch into a royal ballroom into a romantic garden.
Little details such as the subtle lighting, the full moon in the sky, the pit orchestra’s lulling music all add to the dream-like atmosphere, where the Prince and Cinderella have indeed found their true love, and reassure the audience that dreams can come true.
‘Cinderella’ at a glance
Where: Greenville Performing Arts Center
When: 7:30 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday
Tickets: $10 for adults; $5 for K-12 students and seniors 60 and older; tickets are available at the UPS Store, at the door and on line at www.greenville.k12.mi.us. Click “Event Tickets” under “The Arts” tab and follow the links.
Cast and Crew
Cast: Fairy Godmother, Taylor Hedrick; Stepmother, Emily Smith; Grace, Meagan Draper; Joy, Brianna Van Houten; Cinderella, Lizzy VanderLaan; Prince Christopher, Jonah Hitchings; Lionel-Chief of Staff, Caleb Kellogg; Benjamin-Royal Stewart, Alex Karatkiewicz; Lady Hannah-Queen’s Hand Maid, Summer Eipper.
Villagers and ball guests: Boys’ mother, Elisabeth, Erin Williams; Young Boys, Gabe, Andrew and Carter Chapman; Women Sextet, Anteneah Bremby, Secrett Hunt, Eva Manhart, Anna Stanford, Devin Taber and Sarah Wheat; Cloth Merchant, Megan Bouman; Lady Ashley, Alicia Bannen; Young Girl, Brook, Mariah Meier; Girl’s mother, Maria, Eliana Drake; Butcher, Tyler DeGood; Fruit Vendor, Kirsten Hilliker; Flower Girl, Meredith Stowitts; Cheese Merchant, Vincent Frank; Baker, Austin McNeal; Hat Merchant, Jeramie Croad; Grocery Merchant, Shelby Klinert; King Maximillian, Skye Hayes; Queen Constantina, Macy Risch.
Puppeteers: Dove, Meredith Stowitts; Cat, Erin Williams; Mice, Anteneah Bremby, Ana Stanford, Vincent Frank and Mariah Meier; Robot Mice, Justin Barr, Whitney Edwards and Deserai Kent; Footman, Jeramie Croad; Coachman, Tyler DeGood; Horses, Alicia Bannen and Kirsteen Hilliker; Village Maidens, Megan Eliana Drake, Secrett Hunt, Shelby Klinert, Eva Mahunt, Devin Taber and Sarah Wheat.
Crew: Samantha Horton, production stage manager; Jacky Hilliker and Megan Robinson, asst. stage managers; Kelsey Fonger, Hanna Graham, Garrit Harding, Jacqueline Hill, Lorin McDonald and Kaitlyn Wietsma; Andrew Geer and Greg Pribble, sound crew; Alicia Bannen, Jake Barhill, Jeremy Carey, Brittany Carskadon, Seth Cole, Hannah Collins, Leslie Croad, Tyler DeGood, Dustin Despain, Whitney Edwards, Tieanna Galehouse, Kirsteen Hilliker, Brittany Rhodes, Scott Scripter, Kelsea Silvernail, Chris Stoutjesdyk and Audra Taylor, floor /scenic crew; Brittany Rhodes, Phil Rewa, Scott Scripter and Chris Stoutjesdyk, fly crew; Justin Barr, Whitney Edwards; Emily Mulder and Deserai Kent, Prop crew; Alexandrea Demorest, Mackenxie Millerand Brianna Shanahan, costume crew; Taylor Bergeron, Tieanna Galehouse, Sarah Headley makeup crew.
Adult staff: Ruth Hansen, stage director; Joel VanHouten, Assistant director; Allyson Paris-iKeitzenstein,vocal director; Jim Mason, Choreographer, Kevin Lewis, pit director; Janis Rohn, pit pianist; Kayle Clements, rehearsal pianist; Chris Chapman, Tech. Director/set design; Jackie Soule, technical ass’t; Timothy K. Schmidt, sound support; SandyFongr, costumer; Linda Custer and Courtney DeSpelder; Cheryl Willard.
Pit orchestra: Austin Blaszcynski, alto saxophone; Samuel Moss, bass; Stephanie Doyle, cello; Joanna Kebles and Shaylene Shananhan, clarinet; Eve Allenand Sarah Wierda,flute; Dylan Tanner, oboe; Julia Gabrysh and Shalom Paulino, percussion; Susan Gould, saxophone; Eric King, tenor saxophone; Jared Downing, trombone;Mitch Hall, viola; Alex Hall and Julia Hansen, violin.
Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area resident.