1. When did you first see or read or hear about this show? Have you ever worked on a previous production of this show? If so, when and where?
I collaborated with Tom Briggs and Andrew Lippa in adapting this show for the stage in 1999 from the original version written by Rodgers and Hammerstein for television in 1957. I then directed the production of the show in 2000 which toured the country for three years starring Eartha Kitt, Jamie Lynne Siegler, Deborah Gibson and Paolo Montalban. I have since directed this production at other theaters including the Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey, and the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine starring Leslie Uggams.
I was very interested in helping create a fresh view of this beloved tale and to rediscover its relevance, particularly for an American audience. The themes about beauty coming from within and the importance of the imagination and dreams to survive any hardship also resonate deeply with me.
Most people are familiar with the story of Cinderella so I will use this opportunity to point out some of the features of other versions of the tale that we are incorporating into this production. The story itself goes back to the 7th century in China, hence the notion of equating beauty with small feet and the idea of a dainty lost slipper to be used to identify the Princes bride to be. There have been hundreds of incarnations of the story and every country has their own cultural version. The most commonly known here was written in France in the 1600's which led to our Walt Disney cartoon version that came out in the 1950's and was undoubtedly the version that Rodgers and Hammerstein would have been most familiar with. Ideas that we have taken from other versions of the tale include the notion of the Fairy Godmother as the spirit of Cinderella's deceased mother; the idea of a tree in Cinderella's back yard which is planted over her mothers grave; and the addition of an entourage of animals as Cinderella's friends and confidents. It has been very interesting to understand the significance fairy tales have on our own maturation and the way children learn.
Every show has it's challenges and this one includes the magical elements of the story that really have to be delivered to an expectant audience in a spectacular way. It's also important to surprise the audience even though they will all know the story going in. We are blessed to have a great cast, crew and design team to realize this vision and to do so within the budgets of time and money one inevitably faces in any theatrical endeavor.
5. Please describe the SET:
The original designers and I worked hard to remove the show from the Austrian / middle European normal setting for the fairy tale and create a sort of modern parallel fantasy kingdom....using Gaudi and more middle and far eastern influences. The setting is lyrical and simple and introduces some of the elements from other versions of the story.
The lighting will be colorful and poetic while really helping the audience follow the action and isolate the events the way a camera might (especially important considering the show was originally written for television).
Fitting in with the fantasy kingdom mentioned above, the costumes are very colorful and bold. Featuring a lot of asymmetry and, especially in the case of the stepfamily, outlandishness and humor.
Just that this is the 10th year that this production has been entertaining audiences and that it has brought a lot of new and young fans to the material of Rodgers and Hammerstein and we are proud that the production contains important, positive and meaningful messages for those audiences, young and old....