Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Cinderella Dances Across Roy-Hart Stage

You know what March Madness means at our house? It means it’s musical season. We had The Wizard of Oz at North Park, James and the Giant Peach at Emmet Belknap, and The Little Mermaid at the Palace in downtown Lockport. This past weekend, we went to Roy-Hart to see their performance of Cinderella.

Wendy and I decided to take the girls to the Sunday matinee. Well, three out of four, as one of the twins happened to be on the 8th grade trip to Washington, DC. Wendy and I have made the musicals at Roy-Hart somewhat of a tradition in our family. Before we had kids, we invited my grandmother to the shows with us, as it generally fell right around her birthday. After she was unable to go, we made it a date night for us in addition to our Palace tickets. Now that the girls are a bit older and into theater, we take them.

I have never seen Cinderella as a musical. Obviously, I’ve seen the movie...a lot. I have four daughters. I knew the basic story of what we would be seeing. The opening scene was a very crowded stage. There were lots of people in the Village Square as they milled about in their daily routines. With almost everyone on stage at one time, it gave the audience a glimpse at exactly how large the cast was.

Sophomore Sophia Weber played the title character, Cinderella. Her diminutive stature against her taller step-sister costars played well to the role. During most of the show, she was towered over by Grace and Joy. However, as the show progressed, you could actually see her grow, figuratively, as she found her voice in that household. Speaking of her voice, I thought she sang very well. Even when her microphone battery died, she projected enough that nothing was missed. Sophia is still young and will have a couple more years to really hone her presence on stage. It should be a good pair of years for the musical program.

Derek Jaques fit in well as the Prince. He was delightfully awkward and funny during the dance at the royal ballroom, especially when we had to dance with Cinderella’s step sisters. The eye rolls and the quick avoidance was priceless. We’ve all been there. We’ve also all been there when his mother was trying to convince him to find a wife. Again, Derek’s facial expressions were perfect for the role. In a refreshing twist, Derek moved from the pit to the stage, expanding his talents. Who can fault anyone for working hard for new things?

The Fairy Godmother, portrayed by Madeline Keyes, was a touch of comic relief. (There was actually quite a bit of this in the musical, much to my surprise. I loved it.) Her acting as the Fairy Godmother was a very literal character with some spectacular comedic timing. I loved her presence on stage. Whenever she came out, all the little girls in the audience waved their wands over their heads. At first I thought those wands were annoying, but I quickly realized the brilliance of it. It not only drew the audience into the action, but it also made Keyes’ magical aura all the more intense. It was a great addition to her superb presence on stage.

I thought Madison Pratt played an excellent, evil stepmother. I told her aunt that very thing after the show. Madison was spot on as the ringleader of Cinderella’s household, ensuring that she and her daughters were held in high esteem and getting everything they were entitled. Her dismissive waves at Cinderella as she shooed her onto one menial job after another added emphasis to her general disdain for the poor, little girl in rags.

Easily my favorite characters were the stepsisters, Grace and Joy, portrayed by Adrianna Gutierrez and Paige Huth, respectively. Throughout all the show, these two received all the laughs. Deservedly so. Everytime they were on stage, whether they were the focus of attention or not, they continued acting like my daughters do almost all the time. The faces made at each other, the constant arguing, and shoving each other were perfect imitations of the way real sisters act with each other. Trust me. I see it every day. It was a lot more fun to see it on stage rather than in my living room, or in the back of the truck. Paige and Adrianna were a highlight for me Sunday afternoon. They looked like they were having fun playing Grace and Joy.

Last year we saw Mackenzie Rothwell as Millie Dillmount. This year, she took on the role of the regal Queen Constantina. Like every mother, she simply wants the best for her son. Mackenzie has incredible stage presence. Whenever she’s on stage, the audience is simply drawn to her. Her character also reminded all of us that no matter how powerful her husband is (see: King), it’s really the wives who are in control of everyday life. Mackenzie is a delight to follow on stage, and we should have one more year of her performances.

Logan Edwards as King Maximillian was pretty funny, too. His hapless actions as the leader of the realm were hilarious. There was a lot more comedy in this show than I expected, and all the actors and actresses were well apt to provide it. Logan was right there with the rest of the cast to bring laughs to the stage. These kids seem to be so much at ease putting themselves out there for the audience. That’s more than I could ever do.

The prince’s steward, Lionel, was played by Tysheen Roundtree. Here’s another guy who was so very funny. His deadpan delivery during the stepmother’s very obvious come ons. She tried to practically attach herself to him, and he never even cracked a smile. That had to be very difficult because I couldn’t help but laugh. Tysheen played the straight man admirably. No matter what humor was thrown at him, he simply went about his role.

Cinderella was a very well done production. When the pumpkin was changed into the carriage, the lights floating around the auditorium made the change magical. It drew your attention away from the change in scenery, and left the audience with a beautiful piece of theatrical art. Also, when Cinderella’s rags changed into her beautiful ball gown, she never left stage, but was able to transform as she spun behind the other actors on stage. The process the director used was incredible.

One of the things I love about the local theater productions is the fact that they use a live pit to provide music to accompany the action on stage. Once again, Gerald Bacon led the orchestra as they played right on the mark. Roy-Hart always has one of the largest pits I’ve seen for musicals. It combines students, former students, and members of the community. This just proves that the musicals at Roy-Hart are community events. That’s evident each time they sell out the seats at the Roy-Hart theater.

Craig Bacon has four Disney princesses at home. And none of them seem to be able to find at least one of their slippers.