PINE BLUFF, Ark. — A fresh take on a classic fairy tale comes to the stage as the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas (ASC) presents its summer musical, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.”
Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 22-23, and July 29-30; and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 24 and July 31 in the Catherine M. Bellamy Theater at ASC’s home building, 701 S. Main St.
The production is sponsored by Simmons Bank.
The heroine of “Cinderella” is the smart, beautiful young Ella, played by Makayla Shipe of Bryant. She lives in the care of her wicked, self-absorbed stepmother Madame (Dana Edwards of White Hall), and Madame’s two daughters, Charlotte (Valerie Arnold of Little Rock) and Gabrielle (Celeste Alexander of Pine Bluff). Ella’s only friends are the animals in the woods, the kooky eccentric Marie (Bethany Gere of White Hall), and revolutionary student Jean-Michel (Kasey Rowland of Pine Bluff).
Meanwhile, in another part of the kingdom, Prince Topher (Caleb Menard of White Hall) is trying to find himself and learn his place in the kingdom. When his scheming advisor Sebastian (J. Tyler Lewis of Little Rock) suggests hosting a ball for the prince to meet potential brides, Ella and Topher’s worlds come together.
The rest of the cast features Arin Bell, Keiren Minter, Raymond Wallace and Teanna Williams, all of Pine Bluff; Paige Boast, Wesley Brown, Harlie Hipp, Leah Randle and Lanie Ratliff, all of White Hall; Portia Jones of Altheimer; Taylor Oates of Redfield; Will Witt of New Edinburg; and Nick Farr of Little Rock.
Lindsey Collins of Pine Bluff directs, with Joel Anderson of Redfield as co-director. “Cinderella” features musical direction by Faron Wilson and choreography by Tanya Simpson, both of Pine Bluff.
Written by Douglas Carter Beane, “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” debuted on Broadway in 2013. This Tony award-winning production is adapted from the original television specials, the first of which aired in 1957.
Although the story is updated, the musical features the original songs by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.
“I never realized just how gorgeous this music really is until I started the process of putting this show together,” said Collins, who is also ASC’s theater programs manager. “The lyrics are stunning, and the way the music moves you to feel exactly what the songwriters want you to feel is a true testament to Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical abilities to withstand the test of time.”
Collins continued, “The timeless classics, such as ‘Ten Minutes Ago,’ ‘In My Own Little Corner,’ and ‘Impossible’ are all present, but with a new and fresh orchestration, allowing for newer audiences to become as engrossed as those who grew up loving the original. Kids and adults alike will be enraptured from the first note of the overture until the last notes ring out into the theater.”
When the creative team behind “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” began the process of adapting for the stage, they decided to focus on creating an expanded and fleshed-out version that would also be acceptable to a 21st-century audience, Collins explained.
“They wanted to focus on characters who would take charge of their own lives and destinies, and didn’t think modern audiences would be interested in passive characters whose princes just drop from the sky,” she said. “What was created is a Broadway show with modern sensibilities, but with a whole lot of traditional theater magic.”
Tickets are $20 for ASC members and seniors, and $25 for nonmembers. To purchase, visit asc701.org, call 870-536-3375, or visit ASC’s front desk. For more information, contact Collins at [email protected] or 870-536-3375.