Glass slipper fits perfectly in Moorpark High production

THEATER REVIEW /// ‘Cinderella’



MODERN TAKE—Leo Helfrich as the Prince and Madison Burns as the title character in the Moorpark High School production of “Cinderella: Enchanted Edition,” a retelling of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. Courtesy of Barbara Mazeika

MODERN TAKE—Leo Helfrich as the Prince and Madison Burns as the title character in the Moorpark High School production of “Cinderella: Enchanted Edition,” a retelling of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. Courtesy of Barbara Mazeika

When Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote their musical version of “Cinderella” in 1957, it was originally designed as a television special.

A stage version was developed a few years later but it wasn’t until 1990 when it started to become a popular addition to theater companies’ regular rotation of productions.

The musical finally hit Broadway in 2013 in a new adaptation written by Douglas Carter Beane, which changed the story dramatically while adding new characters.

Many have preferred the original version, with its traditional storyline and characters, which was the choice of Moorpark High School’s recent production, staged from April 17 to 27 at the school’s Performing Arts Center.

Labeled as the “Enchanted Edition,” Tom Briggs’ adaptation emphasizes the magic of the original fairy tale with some modern touches added. It was created in 1997 for a teleplay starring Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as her fairy godmother. The production’s mixed-race casting caused some mild controversy at the time but, overall, the production was praised and entered the memories of a new generation of “Cinderella” fans.

Briggs’ version is noteworthy for changes in dialogue that utilized modern-day expressions such as “Same-old, same-old,” “get a life” and “been there, done that,” obviously not in the vernacular of the original 17th century fairy tale much less R&H’s original 1957 TV special. The breezier dialogue was added, along with some additional songs, to make the story more relatable as well as entertaining for modern-day audiences.

Moorpark High’s lively production was directed by Alison Rosenblum with choreography by Whitney Grubb and music direction by Lauren Whitton. As is the custom with many high school productions, the show was double cast, with Madison Burns starring in the title role in the performance on April 25. Burns has a pleasing voice and showcased a sweet personality as Cinderella, especially in her signature “I am” number, “In My Own Little Corner.”

Cinderella’s domicile is shared with her two screechy stepsisters, who are given the antithetical names of Grace and Joy, played with relish by Ryann Hernandez and Marilyn Soto. Their overbearing mother, Cinderella’s stepmother, is played by Bella Chacon. The mother and daughters are so grating you wonder why poor Cindy doesn’t blow them off and find an apartment of her own, since she has already gotten the housekeeping thing down to a science.

With the help of her fairy godmother (in a lovely performance by Danielle Cienfuegos), Cinderella gets a new wardrobe and crashes the grand masked ball celebrating Prince Christopher’s 21st birthday. There she meets the prince (Leo Helfrich) and gets swept off her feet, to the tune of one of Richard Rodgers’ most lilting waltzes (“Ten Minutes Ago”) but those feet get short one shoe when she loses her glass slipper while rushing home at the stroke of midnight. Act II involves the Prince’s search for the charming girl who lost her slipper that night and all ends, as it always does in these stories, happily ever after.

MHS’s production featured an all-student orchestra led by David Bowman. A wardrobe team led by Barbara Mazeika created the lush and colorful costumes while Frendt Theatrical Projections provided the AI-derived set projections. In one scene, the Prince and Cinderella sang the romantic “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful” with a backdrop of a moon the size of Jupiter, an intentional exaggeration for effect, but the audience had no problem with that. (If the moon were indeed that big, it would upset the Earth’s gravitational pull.)

All in all, it’s the charm of one of R&H’s final scores that makes “Cinderella” a perennial favorite for all generations and this MHS production did its legacy justice.