Review: HLOC’s Cinderella Delightfully Redefines Classic Tale – August 15, 2012
Eye Advertising Manager
VAN DUZER – Humboldt Light Opera Company never fails to deliver a delightful summer production of top-notch song and dance, and this year’s delightful Cinderella is no exception.
Cinderella: The Enchanted Edition is a version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s only collaboration written specifically for television.
The show has been revised and updated various times, with songs and characters added. As a result, while this Cinderella cleaves closely to the original French fairy tale, its lead character is more emancipated than one might anticipate.
Those expecting a sweet romance featuring a handsome prince will not be disappointed in Prince Christopher, played by James Gadd, who strikes the right notes in bringing to life a young man seeking love on his own terms. He is well partnered in Katri Pitts as Cinderella. Pitts channels the short-haired pixie quality of Julie Andrews, with a strong voice and a smile that reaches to the back row of the theatre.
The two are well framed by a supporting cast of stellar characters. Fiona Ryder is both ethereal and maternal as the fairy godmother. Larry Pitts as Lionel the steward displays masterful comic timing. Bill Ryder and Katherine Kinley as the King and Queen ably hint at their characters’ own romantic beginnings.
It is, however, Cinderella’s Stepmother (Tracey Barnes-Priestley) and stepsisters Joy (Molly Severdia), Grace (Lily Buschmann) and Portia (Brandy Rose) who steal the show. Gaudily costumed, overly made-up and prone to bickering and vapors, the three stepsisters chew up the scenery every time they are onstage, much to the delight of the audience. They are not so much evil as desperate and needy, innocently unaware of their utter failure to live up to their mother’s expectations. Brandy Rose is especially delightful in her depiction of Portia, the dim-witted stepsister who itches when nervous.
The set design by Jayson Moyhatt is elegantly subdued while quite ably evoking the splendor of the palace, the bustle of the market and the middle-class ostentation of the stepmother’s house.
This simplicity well frames the opulence of the costumes, designed by Threadbare Dancewear’s Kevin Sharkey. From the colorful simplicity of the merchants’ garb to the richness of Cinderella’s ball gown to the garishness of the stepsisters’ wardrobe, Sharkey’s costumes are almost characters in themselves. Cinderella’s shoes, hand beaded with Swarovski crystals by Paula Avelar-Walton of Holly Yashi, are likewise impressive.
The one off note on the opening night was of a technical nature. Although the actors were miked, it was occasionally difficult to hear their dialogue and some of the singing over the orchestra. It is hoped that the difficulty with the sound is now corrected.
Cinderella runs at the HSU Van Duzer Theater through Saturday, Aug. 18, with Friday and Saturday evening shows and Sunday matinees. For tickets, visit hloc.org or call (707) 822-1318.