Rodgers and Hammerstein elevate fairy tale to live extravaganza


By Bob Evans

As the old song goes, “Fairy tales can come true. It can happen to you, if you’re young at heart” which resounded throughout the huge amphitheater, Starlight Theatre, as they opened the weekend with the R&H musical, “Cinderella.” to the delight of young and old.

Who doesn’t believe in fairy tales at a young age and wish he/she had a fairy godmother to grant the wildest wishes and create the most fabulous “happily ever after”? Well, the youngsters and oldsters and every age in between filled Starlight with those hopeful dreamers, those young-at-heart, and those tender young still hopefuls with the idea that dreams really do come true.

The national tour of “Cinderella” made all those dreams come true, including the magic of rags to riches with live, spectacular clothing changes that make everyone wonder how a simple raggedy dress can transform into a glamorous evening dress right before your eyes.

The sets, the costumes, the special effects, the lighting, and all the technical behind the scenes parts that create a solid production all shine in this traveling production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, originally written for Julie Andrews as a television special back in the days of black and white TV. Yes, back in 1957, long before Andrew’s big breaks on Broadway, she portrayed “Cinderella” for TV audiences.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” the 2013 Tony® Award-winning Broadway musical from the creators of “The King & I” and “The Sound of Music, “ will play Starlight Theatre as part of the 2018 Shawnee Mission Health Broadway Series for a limited engagement from June 29–July 1. Tickets for “Cinderella” are available now and can be purchased online at the Starlight Theatre website,  by calling 816-363-STAR (7827) or at the Starlight box office at 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, Mo.,64132.

“More than just a pretty face with the right shoe size, this “Cinderella” is a contemporary figure living in a fairytale setting. She is a spirited young woman with savvy and soul who doesn’t let her rags or her gowns trip her up in her quest for kindness, compassion and forgiveness,” Starlight said.

Cinderella’s rags to riches story takes on a new element of kindness and inclusion that strays from the original Grimm’s story and most certainly from the Disney version. Cinderella is a mature woman who wants a better life for herself and others. She learns to fight for her dreams with a gentle kindness and grounded spirit that gives this production a new twist on an old tale.

“Cinderella” makes a triumphant return to Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre, but with a home-town pride story in that local actor, Tyler Eisenreich performs in the national tour.

“We’re thrilled to have Blue Springs native Tyler Eisenreich home as well,” Starlight’s President and CEO Rich Baker said. “We’re really proud of Tyler’s accomplishments and can’t wait to see him perform on the Starlight stage.”

Eisenreich is a member of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s ensemble and he won the 2012 Blue Star Award for Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role for his performance as Jimmy Smith in Thoroughly Modern Millie Blue Springs High School, Starlight said. A short video feature graces the Big-Screen projection and allows guests to see a clip of Eisenreich’s interview before the overture begins.

As for the actual production, all the right elements line up for a wonderful extravaganza of epic childhood proportions. No child can resist the story of Cinderella, her wicked step mother and two step sisters. However, in this version, not both step-sisters are wicked. One actually has a human streak in her and helps poor Cinderella after discovering Cinderella’s secret. Their bonding helps make the show a kinder, gentler story and those previously known.

And, after all, the show is “Cinderella,” so Cinderella must be overwhelmingly good in her role. For this part, the national tour selected Tatyana Lubov to lead the cast. She commands the stage as Cindy with sweetness and charm. Her humility and kindness send vibes throughout the vast Starlight audience.

Watching the younger members in the audience, their focus lay on two characters–Cinderella and Marie (Fairy Godmother) played by Leslie Jackson. The younger audience always perked up when those two performed scenes together. The amazement and excitement for more magic whenever Cinderella and Marie came close together kept the young audience wide-eyed in anticipation.

Lubov and Jackson created magic on stage and throughout the audience. They shined in their performances. The balance of the cast is good and strong from top to bottom, but just judging from the audience and the young attendees, the two ladies held their focus best.

Costumes and choreography were superb in this production. The on stage costume changes were magical. The choreography filled the stage. As far as vocals, for a national tour, one can expect awesome vocals, and “Cinderella” delivered on that. A favorite part for the reviewer was the men’s ensemble. Their ballet and acrobatic moves gave life and lift to the production. Without them, the show would be flat. They kept if moving and exciting. Set design and management were extremely well orchestrated. Sets moved and changed scenes in front of the audience without notice.

Overall, Starlight scored a winner with “Cinderella,” despite the heat wave in Kansas City. The newly installed fans certainly added an extra dimension to the enjoyment. Just by keeping the air moving in that venue after the sunset made the auditorium area very comfortable in over 90 degree heat.

Tickets for “Cinderella” can be purchased through the Starlight web site. Besides tickets, patrons can purchase less expensive parking permits, outdoor or indoor dining, and plan their visit ahead of time. Online purchases save money on parking and dining.

About  Starlight  Theatre:  Starlight  Theatre  is  the  largest  and  oldest  performing  arts  organization  in  Kansas  City  and  the  second-largest  outdoor  producing  theatre  in  the  country.  Opened  as  a  theater  in  1950  and  as  a  not-for-profit  organization  in  1951,  Starlight  presents  and  produces  Broadway  musicals  and  concerts.  It  also  offers  extensive  community  outreach  and  educational  programming,  including  classes,  scholarships  and  Starlight’s  Blue  Star  Awards,  one  of  the  largest  high  school  musical  theatre  award  programs  in  the  nation.

Photos provided by the National Tour of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella and courtesy of Starlight Theatre of Kansas City, Missouri.

Tags:  “Cinderella”, “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘Cinderella”, Starlight Theatre, Kansas City Theater, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment


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