Aspiring little princesses packed into the Terrace Plaza Playhouse on July 8 to watch their dreams come to life during the theater’s summer show, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.
The show has been running since June 12, and has some alternating leads because of a double-casting system used for the characters. Friday the 8th featured the A cast, starring Cariel Hansen as Cinderella, Brady Stratton as Prince Christopher and Kristy Foo as the Fairy Godmother. Some roles remained single-cast, such as Cinderella’s stepmother, played by Becky Montgomery, as well as multiple ensemble roles throughout the performance.
“From the beginning, I knew it was going to be a great show, because the way he described it was that it was going to be a magical production, and it really is,” Montgomery said. “From the lighting to the costumes to the staging, it’s just fantastic.”
This musical version of the famous Grimm brothers’ fairy tale follows the rags-to-riches story of Cinderella, a girl who is a slave in her own home and wishes for nothing more than one night of freedom to go seek out her true love. The familiar themes in the story are played in a comedic style with running gags throughout the show, including the bickering of the two stepsisters, the multiple names of the royal family, and the flirtatious desperation Cinderella’s stepmother has with the prince’s royal steward.
The show’s director, Shelby Ferrin, said that his 7-year-old daughter inspired the whole concept for the show. Directing Into the Woods the previous year at the Terrace, Ferrin had already been involved with the fairy tale genre, but it was a show that he said was more intellectual in nature. He said his decision on what to bring to Cinderella, as both its director and designer, was to make it a dedication to every little girl’s imagination.
“I decided what I can do for Cinderella is I can make it the most beautiful show I can, and bring to life everything my daughter imagines when she thinks about Cinderella and when she pretends,” Ferrin said.
Every detail about the show was stretched so it could become “magicaler and magicaler,” a motto coined by Ferrin’s daughter as he asked her opinion throughout the organization of the musical.
For many audience members, the most eye-catching of the show’s effects was the transformation sequences. Some included Cinderella’s mice friends morphing from puppets to live-action white stallions, a black-light performance during the change of the pumpkin to a royal carriage, and a shower of sparkles that rained down as Cinderella’s rags magically became a ball gown.
The audience’s biggest response came from the little girls, whom Ferrin said heatedly attended the performances.
“We don’t even put out any kind of information specifically — they just come,” Ferrin said. “Every night there’s 30 or 40 of them in the audience in little Cinderella or Belle outfits. It’s darling to see.”
A mother of one girl, who has brought her family to accompany her on three separate nights, commented that the show had been sold out every time.
“Some people sit through it with a straight face,” the patron said. “Letting yourself become part of the play makes it more enjoyable.”
After the performance, all the girls would rush out to a set area in the lobby where the designated Cinderella and Prince Charming of the night awaited to meet and take pictures with as many of the children who desired it.
“When the audience comes out, it feels just like we’re in Disneyland,” Stratton said. “They just want to take a picture and hug Cinderella. I love seeing their reaction. It’s like one of their dreams came true, being able to meet the princess. It makes my whole night.”
The casts of Cinderella grew close because of the show and tight-knit family atmosphere they said the Playhouse is able to host without fail.
The show even became an ironic reunion for the A-cast couple Hansen and Stratton, who knew each other in high school before Stratton left on his mission to India. After spending the summer as a prince, Stratton will become a Wildcat for his freshman year at Weber State University, continuing his education for his goals as a math teacher. Hansen said an enchanting future lies ahead of her as well, since the princess personified is set to be married four days after the show closes. This is her last show with the Terrace, since she’ll be moving as well, but she said she is happy that Cinderella was the last show she got to do before departing.
“Watching theater when I was little and watching Disney movies, you always want to meet those princesses,” Hansen said. “Seeing the faces the little girls make when they see you or your giving them a hug is priceless. I loved doing the show, and it’s made me more excited to get married and have that fairy tale happy ending come true for me.”
Cinderella closes at the Playhouse on July 30. The next featured show is the comedy Lend Me a Tenor, which runs from August 12 to September 17. Interested parties can call 801-393-0070 for seating reservations.