- Stoo Metz
- Ryan Brown and Samantha Walkes go to the ball in Cinderella. (Writer/Director: Jeremy Webb; Choreography: Stephanie Graham; Musical Direction/Arrangements: Lisa St. Clair; Set Designer: Patrick Clark; Costume Designer: Helena Marriott; Lighting Designer: Leigh Ann Vardy; Sound Designer: Deanna H. Choi)
Written and directed by Jeremy Webb, Cinderella is world unto itself: A kingdom set in the surrounding HRM where time and space don’t seem to exist. Some characters speak with English accents and some don’t. Characters are dressed like old Dickensian/Disney characters while using iPhones and cracking Star Wars jokes. It feels easy to dismiss Cinderella as a wacky hodgepodge where anything goes, but after seeing the comedic, loving energy the cast and crew give to a tale told a billion times before, you find yourself embracing the chaos.
For all my enjoyment, it’s not without its missteps. Samantha Walkes is a firecracker in the title role of Cinderella: Cool, clever and not afraid to shoot down the outdated belief she needs a prince to save her, Walkes offers an admirable idol in today’s times of social upheaval and rebranding.But she’s sometimes drowned out by the comedic overload of her castmates—in her one-on-one scenes and singing numbers, Walkes is an emotional powerhouse, but when you surround her with, say, Ryan Brown’s hilarious Prince Charmin, French buffoon Boutons (Andrew Prashad) and/or stampeding Cockney step-sisters (Ann Doyle and Becca Guilderson) Cinderella’s pizazz diminishes. In the show’s most knockout moments, you nearly forget who the whole performance is actually about. Since Walkes gives a performance your kids will be talking about for days, it seems only fair to ensure your main star isn’t getting outshone.
I also wasn’t sold on this show’s version of the Fairy Godmother (Martha Irving). Yes, breaking down the fourth wall is fun and all, but unless she’s transforming Cinderella into a glam queen (super cool), she’s a meandering character no one quite knows what to do with. If you listen closely in the scenes with Irving and Cinderella’s dad, Old Jim (Michael Lamont-Lytle), you can hear Webb trying to tie up two large loose ends.
For a story everyone knows, there’s plenty of surprises to be found in Cinderella. With balanced acts bolstered with fun musical numbers, incredible set design and pyrotechnics, there’s a good chance you’ll fall under this show’s spell. Neptune has taken a respectable initiative by carving out a strong, unforgettable heroine— let’s just make sure she remains the heart of this tale.