Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Toby’s Dinner Theatre Cinderella

By • Dec 4th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Cinderella by Rodgers & Hammerstein
Toby’s Dinner Theatre
Toby’s Dinner Theatre, Columbia, MD
Through January 23rd
2:00, with one intermission
$47-$52/$33.50 Children
Reviewed November 28th, 2010

Music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, adapted for the stage by Tom Briggs, from the teleplay by Robert L. Freedman. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is the only musical R&H wrote for television. To some of us in the Boomer generation, the Leslie Ann Warren version was the definitive, an annual staple of television. It was broadcast nine times from its premiere in 1965 to its last airing in 1974. In 1997, Whitney Houston produced the most recent version, based in part on the original 1957 broadcast, which starred Julie Andrews and predated video tape. In 2004, through the wonders of modern technology, this original was released on DVD. I was fascinated by the changes from version to version, not just in costume but in musical content and flavor.

It was with intense curiosity that I asked to review Toby’s production, directed with a lighthearted touch by Lawrence B. Munsey, with musical direction by Ross Scott Rawlings, a simply beautiful set design by David A. Hopkins, lively choreography by Ilona Kessell, flawless lighting design by Lynn Joslin, and spot on sound design by Drew Dedrick. Making the production fresh and new is hard to do but Munsey’s team is clearly up to the challenge. This production, the first I’ve seen on stage, is a surprising combination of the three, with elements that are unique and welcome.

The story of the girl, the prince and the slipper dates back centuries. His version most closely resembles the 1997 “Brandy” version, but it has an up to date feel, a fresh and sometimes wacky take on the original. Flamboyant and sumptuous, fanciful and and sophisticated, from the opening moments to the final happily ever after, Toby’s Cinderella has its own special place.

Mary Searcy is an absolute knock-out as Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, in personality and voice. Jessica Lauren Ball is the much-abused but always good natured Cinderella. She carries her role with elegance and irrepressible charm. Matthew Schleigh as Prince Christopher is not so much Prince Charming as he is a real young man with serious concerns about how his parents are taking away his control of his destiny. These three, when singing together or separately, are a joy to hear.

Heather Marie Beck as the Stepmother, David James as Grace and Darren McDonnell as Joy, the gender bending Stepsisters, all turn in undeniably hilarious over-the-top performances in every conceivable way, from costumes and make-up to their individual “flaws” and mutual loathing for the beautiful Cinderella. “The Stepsister’s Lament” is flat out hysterical.

Dan Sonntag is perfect as the harried steward, walking the fine line between pleasing Prince Chris’ parents, played wisely and regally by Tina DeSimone and Andrew Horn, and helping his prince who wants badly to avoid his destiny in a loveless arranged marriage.

A lively ensemble, including puppets, help round out the cast. There’s also quite a bit of stage magic I won’t give away, but trust me, it’s awesome to watch.

In all, this is a fun, extremely family-friendly show, and a lovely way to celebrate the holiday season! And if you do bring the kids, note that there’s an additional after-show surprise. You can’t photograph the show, but you’ll want it afterward.

Please note that Smoke and strobe lights are used during the performance.

Program Notes

The classic tale of Cinderella, the girl left to the devices of her evil stepmother and two evil stepsisters, who manages to rise above adversity with the help of her Fairy Godmother and is transported to the miraculous kingdom of dreams-come-true.

The timeless enchantment of a magical fairy tale is reborn with the Rogers & Hammerstein hallmarks of originality, charm and elegance. Originally presented on television in 1957 starring Julie Andrews, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella was the most widely viewed program in the history of the medium. Its recreation in 1965 starring Lesley Ann Warren was no less successful in transporting a new generation to the miraculous kingdom of dreams-come-true, and was so was a second remake in 1997, which starred Brandy as Cinderella and Whitney Houston as her Fairy Godmother. As adapted for the stage, with great warmth and more than a touch of hilarity, the hearts of children and adults alike still soar when the slipper fits. This Enchanted Edition is based on the 1997 teleplay.

There are evening and matinee performances at Toby’s. The doors open at 6pm for evening shows (5pm on Sundays) and 10:30am for matinees. Reservations are required. Group rates, custom and children’s gift certificates are available all year. Major credit cards are honored. 2010 Season Subscriptions, holiday gift certificates and custom gift certificates are now on sale.

Photo Gallery

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Cinderella2010_0478 Cinderella
dancing wedding

Photos by Kirstine Christiansen.

The Cast (in Order Of Appearance)

  • Cinderella: Jessica Lauren Ball
  • Fairy Godmother: Mary Searcy
  • Stepmother: Heather Marie Beck
  • Grace: David James
  • Joy: Darren McDonnell
  • Prince Christopher: Matthew Schleigh
  • Lionel: Dan Sonntag
  • Queen Constantina: Tina DeSimone
  • King Maximillian: Andrew Horn
  • Puppeteers: David Gregory, Lance Hayes, David Jennings, Jennie Lutz,
  • Maria Rizzo and Jason Wiggins
  • Ensemble: David Gregory (Lionel/Joy u/s), Katie Harrington, Lance Hayes, David Jennings, Nick Lehan (Prince/Grace u/s), Jennie Lutz (Queen/Stepmother u/s), Maria Rizzo, Alan Wiggins, Jason Wiggins, Lara Zinn (Cinderella u/s)
  • Swings: Jordan Andre, Lawrence B. Munsey (King u/s), Janine Sunday (Fairy Godmother u/s)


  • Conductor/Keyboard I: Ross Scott Rawlings or Pamela Wilt
  • Keyboard II: Ann Prizzi, Ed Myers or Barbara Irvine
  • Reeds: Charlene McDaniels, Katie Kellert or Steve Haaser

Production Staff

  • Directors: Lawrence B. Munsey
  • Musical Director: Ross Scott Rawlings
  • Choreographer: Ilona Kessell
  • Set Designer: David A. Hopkins
  • Scenic Artists: Peter Fox, Amy Kaplan
  • Costume Designer: Lawrence B. Munsey
  • Lighting Designer: Lynn Joslin
  • Sound Designer: Drew Dedrick
  • Puppets: Kate Wackerle, Tony Wackerle
  • Production Manager: Vickie S. Johnson
  • Production Stage Manager: Kate Wackerle
  • Stage Managers: Drew Dedrick, Kate Wackerle
  • Master Carpenter: Jason Krznarich
  • Set Construction: Corey Brown, David A. Hopkins, Jason Krznarich, Russell Sunday
  • Properties and Set Dressing: Amy Kaplan
  • Light Board Operators: Coleen M. Foley, Erin MacDonald
  • Sound Operators: Drew Dedrick, Jimmy Engelkemier, Corey Brown
  • Stage Crew: Danny Clemens, Ashley Grant, Erin MacDonald

Theatre Staff

  • Artistic Director: Toby Orenstein
  • Associate Artistic Directors: David A. Hopkins, Lawrence B. Munsey
  • General Manager: Joel Friedman
  • Assistant Manager: Patrick Albright
  • Form Manager: Steve Lewis
  • Chef / Kitchen Manager: Chuck Cofield
  • Chef / Assistant Kitchen Manager: Anthony Beachum
  • Director of Group Sales / Tour and Travel: Cheryl Clemens
  • Assistant Director of Group Sales / Tour and Travel: Audrey Kyle
  • Group Sales Hosting Staff: Heidi Berry, Bonnie Ciborowski, Danny
  • Ciborowski, Sandy Ciborowski, Marsha Raymond
  • Director of Marketing: Nancy Michel
  • Box Office Manager: Judy Abrams
  • Box Office Staff: Heidi Berry, Judy Berry, Laura Blasi, Mary Dempsey,
  • Lynae Harris, Breena Hebron, Estelle King, Marie Moineau
  • Bookkeeper: Bayna Castner
  • Youth Theatre Administrator: Toba Barth
  • Theatre Photographer / Website Developer: Kirstine Christiansen
  • Bar Manager: Shawn Kettering
  • Maintenance Engineers: Stephen B. Harris, Mike Monahan

Disclaimer: Toby’s Dinner Theatre provided three complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is founder and Artistic Director of OutOftheBlackBox Theatre Company (O2B2) and General Manager of the Greenbelt Arts Center. Since 2006 Betsy has worked as a director, producer, designer and more. Betsy has also worked with Washington Revels, Arena Stage, the now-defunct Harlequin Dinner Theatre and with community theatre companies both in Maryland and in upstate New York. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Technical Theatre from SUNY New Paltz. Through Hawkeswood Productions, Betsy produces archival performance videos and YouTube highlight spots.

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