Cinderella by Literally AlivePosted March 6th, 2010 21:11
When approaching a story as well-known and well-loved as Cinderella, a production company, and playwright, are faced with any number of obstacles. There are certain things that people expect, as well as the trials and tribulations of being compared to “the greats.” Everyone knows the story as it was told by either the Grimm brothers, or the classic Disney film which has inspired so many girls to dream and wish for their own handsome prince. However, Literally Alive’s production ofCinderella written by Brenda Bell manages to escape the confines of these giant productions and bring something new to the story, inspired by the version told by Charles Perrualt.
It’s slightly awkward to step into the Player’s Theatre on Saturday mornings if you aren’t bringing someone under the age of eight. We entered to find happy children and toddlers just finishing up their “wand making” session on the stage. Those who were already finished were flying around the theatre casting magic spells on whomever they could find. I remarked to the person I’d brought with me how, for a theatre lover like me, this will be a haven when I have my own children. Still, I’m sure we looked funny, two young twenty-somethings sitting toward the back of a theatre packed with kids and parents.
As Brenda Bell, writer of the show and founder of Literally Alive, took the stage to give the pre-show announcement I relaxed into my seat. She’s about as fun and as much of a child-at-heart as anyone can get. She got us all in the mood, and with a swish of every wand in the place, the show began. The set is simple, minor changes from scene to scene, and a giant storybook in the middle, which changed pages along with each new event to give the backdrop.
I could really break this down for you. I could tell you that the step-sisters were very fun, the step-mother extremely believable, and the costumes better than I expected for such a small production. I could tell you about Brianna Hurley who played Giselle, a fun mix between the cook and Cinderella’s not-yet-fully practiced Fairy Godmother and how fun she was to watch. I could tell you that the dances occasionally felt stifled on a stage so small, and I could tell you that I expected more out of the girl playing Cinderella, but that’s hardly the point here.
A show like this is out there for one purpose, and one purpose alone: The children. Literally Alive is a fantastic addition to any child’s life and I will someday happily take my kids to their productions. They’re warm and friendly, they’re theatrical and memorable. They make it a point to show the stories in a new light, while still giving a healthy dose of the canon text, which is obviously well loved by anyone who could name their company Literally Alive. In a time when literature is losing out to television and movies, this is a hidden gem that parents should be so grateful for. Is the production perfect? No. I can’t sit here and pretend the theatre critic and performer in me didn’t find flaws, because I did. But that isn’t the point, the point is it works for the kids, and they loved it. That made me love it.