Cinderella takes the stage in time for the holidays, at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto
Just in time for the holiday seasons, Mirvish Productions, in true Mirvish fashion, have pulled out all the stops for their family-friendly musical production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. This version of the classic rags-to-riches story comes with a few unique twists and a rather interesting socio-political commentary that tends to get overlooked when you’re mostly familiar with the Disney version.
Cinderella is sparkly, whimsical, and at times almost cloyingly saccharine; it’s everything you can expect and want from a big-stage production of this caliber. If there’s a little princess in your life, she’s sure to be enchanted by this.
Kaitlyn Davidson takes on the title role along with Andy Huntington Jones as Topher, the dashingly handsome prince with far too many additional names to list here. The duo lead a dynamic cast of young and beautiful starlets with remarkable voices, perfect for capturing Oscar Hammerstein II’s lyrics which are pithy, innocent, and sweet.
To be frank, it’s clear that I am not the target audience for Cinderella. As an adult, my preference — even in musical theatre — is for depth, nuance, and maturity. Cinderella is a fantastical holiday treat for the younger crowd brought along by parents. Many of the characters (like the stepmother known as Madame, the stepsister Charlotte, and Topher’s secretary Sebastian) are one-sided caricatures good for a few laughs. The songs are quaint but not entirely memorable — this may be one of the first musicals I’ve seen where I found that none of the songs stayed with me after the final curtain.
On the other hand, this version of the Cinderella story takes a few turns with the tale that I rather enjoyed. It starts with the addition of the character of Jean-Michel (David Andino) who radically speaks up for the rights of the poor and stepsister Gabrielle (Kimberly Fauré) who isn’t evil and in fact wants to take up the cause of the impoverished herself, inspired by her love for Jean-Michel. The progression of the story after Cinderella attends the ball leads to a series of events that veers greatly away from the story I’ve always known.
For me, the best part of this production has to be the sheer opulence of the spectacle — from the costumes by William Ivey Long to the set designed by Anna Louizos, the lighting (Kenneth Posner) and the music (Valerie Gebert), it’s all sheer magic. When crazy old lady Marie (Liz McCartney) spins around and poof! transforms into the Fairy Godmother, the costume reveal is seamless and stunning. The same goes for Cinderella’s transformation into her ballgown. It was clear that this had the audience thoroughly impressed. Also, the set transitions from the woods, to Cinderella’s home, to the castle were also done impeccably well as was the cast’s use of stage and space — it’s sheer fun to watch.
If there are young ones in your life — in particularly ones who are still enchanted by fairy princesses — give them the chance to play dress-up and take them to Cinderella. You’ll surely win brownie points with them.
- Cinderella is playing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre (formerly the Canon Theatre) at 244 Victoria St until January 10, 2016.
- Performances run Tuesday to Saturday at 7:30 pm with matinees on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 pm.
- Tickets range from $45 – $150 and can be purchased online, in person at the box office, by phone by calling (416) 872 1212, or at the TOTix box office located at Yonge-Dundas Square.
- The performance is 2 hours 25 minutes including intermission.
- Recommended for children ages 5 and up.
Photo of Liz McCartney and Kaitlyn Davidson by Carol Rosegg.