Theater Info for the Washington DC region

C.D. Hylton High School Cinderella

By • Apr 20th, 2009 • Category: Cappies

You know it’s a fairy tale when a man chooses a wife based on her shoe size, and they still manage to live happily ever after. But, as Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother sings, “Impossible things are happening every day,” and C.D. Hylton High School’s spunky production of Cinderella embraced the colorful possibilities of a world where anything can happen.

The original rags-to-riches story, most famously told by Charles Perrault, had already been adapted for stage and screen countless times before Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote their own version of Cinderella. Starring Julie Andrews, the made-for-TV musical was a smash hit and has since been remade twice, most recently with Brandy and Whitney Houston.

On the C.D. Hylton stage, Leanna Smithberger stepped into the title role with the grace and poise of a true princess. Her soft, musical voice was perfectly suited to the part. Jason Danby avoided a stereotypical Disney-esque portrayal of Prince Charming, instead playing the prince with quiet intensity and a smooth, wistful singing voice.

Jason Lester‘s jovial, childish King more than balanced out the prince’s solemnity. With perfectly timed physical comedy and a wide array of facial expressions, Lester milked laughter out of even the weakest punch lines. Gretchen Krupp balanced the glittery extravagance of the Fairy Godmother with warmth, humor, and a beautiful mezzo-soprano voice, while Jonny Cuesta as the Herald stole the show with his powerful singing and infectious enthusiasm.

Possibly the most entertaining performances were given by Jordan Ryals and Lacey Peter as Cinderella’s catty stepsisters. Their skills in the art of slapstick were especially notable in “Stepsister’s Lament,” the strongest number in the show. Ryals was particularly funny as the dimwitted Portia, all flouncing pigtails and obnoxious giggles.

Because the cast was so small, each member of the ensemble had a chance to shine, whether acting drunk (Connor Smith), sinister (Phillip Munck), flashy (Michael Bailey), or even self-conscious about smelly feet (Nayra Guevara). Although Terrell Washington only had a few moments of stage time as the footman, his ridiculous dancing and lip-synching made him one of the most memorable actors in the show. Ethan Murphy‘s rich baritone voice made him stand out in the small role of the Chef.

Although the lack of a real sound or lighting system was an obstacle to the production, the cast usually projected and enunciated well enough to be understood. The actors also handled slow, messy set transitions with the aplomb of professionals, although some ensemble members distracted the audience’s attention from lead actors at crucial moments.

While Cinderella is often regarded as one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s least inspired musicals, the exuberant cast of C.D. Hylton’s production carried the show well. Enchanting, uplifting, and filled with humor and spectacle, Cinderella made for “A Lovely Night” for all.

by Megan Fraedrich of West Springfield High School

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