Children know best
Elementary-age girls give Cinderella two thumbs up
Waiting for the Western Nevada Musical Theatre Youth Company’s production of Cinderella to start, I watched little girls scamper about dressed like princesses, with little tiaras on their heads and sparkly wands in their hands. I realized at that moment that no matter what sort of review I gave this performance, the real reviewers to pay attention to were these little girls. Out of all the theatergoers in the Carson City Community Center that afternoon, these girls were the target audience.
Good news: They loved it.
There’s much for a young girl to love in this production, which was originally written for television in 1957 by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The Broadway duo’s treatment includes a critically acclaimed score and a slightly updated story line—instead of automatically getting what she wishes for, Cinderella has to sing for 10 minutes or so about how much she really, really wants to go to the ball before the Fairy Godmother relents.
WNMTYC’s cast is capped at the age of 21, and the youngest of the cast looked no more than 4 or 5 years old. Still, as the program notes explain, many of these young performers have grown up with the company, culling years and years of theatrical experience.
This experience was obvious in many of the lead characters. Jennifer Jackson seems born for the part of Cinderella, with her classic, wholesome, envy-inspiring beauty and her lithe dancer’s body. It’s criminal that someone that gorgeous should also be gifted with a beautiful soprano voice and a ballerina’s grace. I’ll be calling the Heavenly Complaint Hotline to demand a recount on my meager talents.
Ann Libby, playing the queen, is also hoarding way too much talent for one person. Not only was she a delight to watch and listen to on stage, but apparently she is also an accomplished pianist who often serves as a musical director and accompanist for Carson High School and Brewery Arts Center productions.
Andie Anderson as the evil stepmother and Stephanie Dixon as the Fairy Godmother also deserve recognition for solid acting and excellent singing. Cody Salinas, playing the king, did a fine job in his singing parts, but was a little stiff at times and hard to hear while acting. Lucas Pakes as the prince seemed to have the same problem—shining during songs and losing my interest during non-singing parts.
A departure from the usual Cinderella story that I found particularly enjoyable is the use of a featured dancer, Bianca Harris, to personify the pumpkin in its magical transformation into a golden carriage. In fact, the entire transformation scene was well done by WNMTYC, using liberal blasts from a fog machine and an actual working carriage.
Unfortunately, the climactic scene, when Cinderella tries on the glass slipper and it fits, was pretty anti-climactic. I was expecting trumpets and fairy dust and all manner of magical exuberance, but it didn’t happen. Kind of a letdown.
But as I said, this performance didn’t really seem to be for me. The preschool and elementary-aged girls around me seemed to be having a blast, and parents seemed to be thrilled with their children’s wide-eyed wonder. For them, at least, it was truly a fairytale afternoon.