Rodgers and Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA—Pure Magic

by Jessica Martin

David Ferris and Arielle Thomas star in Pineland Players' CINDERELLA, running in Medford Lakes, NJ, through August 20.

How refreshing it is to see a real fairy tale come alive on stage! No satire, no cynicism as in INTO THE WOODS—just a witty retelling of a much-loved classic story, and not too syrupy either. Pineland Players takes us into a magical world where anything is possible, from a pumpkin turning into a golden coach to a household drudge marrying a prince.

Hopefully, children still learn the story of Cinderella, made to act as a servant by her stepmother and stepsisters but aided by a fairy godmother to attend a royal ball and win a royal heart. It’s a tale told all over the world, in many cultures and in numerous versions. This version has the magic touch of hitmakers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It has been seen on television in three very different productions and still maintains its charm and appeal.

The Pineland Players production is ably directed by Laurel Hutt Thomas, with choreography by local dance teacher Fay Schanne. When you read the credits in the program, you realize that this show came together through the talents of many club and cast members and their families. Schanne deserves special mention for the delightful dance numbers, including the dance of the chefs and steward, showing the king and queen how they are preparing for the ball, and the gavottes and waltzes of the ballroom scene.

The costumes and sets are lovely. The special effects such as instant transformations, so easy to achieve on film, are not so easy to create on stage, but the pumpkin-to-coach, mice-to-horses, and rats-to-attendants changes were handled as well as possible. And Cinderella’s change of clothing from servant’s duds to beautiful ball gown, though made offstage, was almost instantaneous and left the audience wondering how it was done.

Olivia Corallo and Catherine Davies as the evil stepsisters in Pineland Players' production of CINDERELLA, running through August 20 in Medford Lakes, NJ.

Cinderella, played by Arielle Thomas, has a lovely singing voice and a charming acting style. The same can be said for David Ferris as the Prince. Rachel Ulriksen, Catherine Davies and Olivia Corallo are hilarious as the social-climbing stepmother and stepsisters. Other standouts are Anne-Marie Bellshot as the Fairy Godmother, James Teesdale and Karen Malone as the King and Queen, and Tyrone Fuimaono as the strong-voiced Herald. The large supporting cast displayed great enthusiasm and a spirit of fun.

If you come from any distance from Medford Lakes, be sure to obtain directions from Google or the phone number below because Neeta School, where this group performs, can be tricky to find. But do come; it’s well worth the effort. Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother say that anything is possible if you dream or wish hard enough. However, in theatre, anything is possible when you work hard and have great teamwork, as shown by Pineland Players.

Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Music by Richard Rodgers
Directed by Laurel Hutt Thomas
August 12-20, 2011
Pineland Players
at Neeta Elementary School
44 Neeta Trail
Medford Lakes, NJ 08055-1641
(609) 286-3485

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