The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts is offering up a magical evening for families this holiday season with Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. No, it’s not about Christmas, but it’s a gentle and satisfying story full of sparkle and spectacle that’s sure to create a warm memory, particularly for the little girl in your life.
In this version, Cinderella (Jessica Fredrickson) is treated badly by her stepmother (Gretta Grosch) and stepsisters, Grace (Colleen Somerville), and Joy (Andrea Wollenberg), but mostly they’re just silly. They bicker, wear outrageously tacky costumes, they sing, they dance, they fall off the furniture and down the stairs. Oh, yes, they are funny. The laughter of children was evidence enough.
Even the youngest in the audience understood that all Cinderella had to do was listen to her Fairy Godmother, played with humor and style by Tonia Hughes, and believe in herself to find her way out of her predicament. Fredrickson is delightfully natural in the role, with a powerhouse voice that seems to just float out of her. We are equally charmed by her prince (Jeremiah James), whose Sweetest Sounds is sweet indeed, with just the right mix of naiveté and determination.
The King and Queen (Gary Briggle and Wendy Lehr) delight as the loving parents in Boys and Girls Like You and Me. They are the parents every child would love to have.
As talented as the name roles and the entire ensemble is, it’s tempting to give the technicians in this show top billing. In addition to the large, multiple sets gliding and flying in and out and the beautiful use of black scrim, Technical Director Jason Allyn-Schwerin pulled off some dazzling stunts with black lights and sparkle effects – some of them nicely set up by the mice, dove and cat puppetry.
You don’t have to accompany a very young lady to enjoy this show, but if you happen to know one, I suggest you dress her up in the frothy ball gown she loves to wear, put a wand in her hand, and whisk her off to downtown St. Paul. Bundle her up, too, so you can stroll under the millions of lights in Rice Park. It’s a nice segue from the fairy tale to the parking lot.
Cinderella runs through January 1.