UB’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” created on-stage magic, no fairy godmothers necessary. The show’s larger than life characters were matched by equally extravagant costumes, props and scenery at six shows this past weekend.
Sophomore music theatre major Jack Catena said there’s one thing that makes the production extra special: the costumes.
“They’re all frickin’ amazing and expertly crafted,” Catena said. “They’re all well put together, and there’s so much to do, so much dancing, that they could easily fall apart, but they don’t.”
Costumes play a major role in the show’s most iconic scene: Cinderella’s bippity boppity transformation from rags to riches, from pauper to princess. In the musical numbers “Impossible” and “It’s Possible,” Crazy Marie (junior music theatre major Valentina Rodriguez) transforms from a kooky old woman in a raggedy quilt-like dress into the elegant, eye-catching fairy godmother.
Both Rodriguez and Cinderella (junior music theatre major Isabella Gomez-Barrientos) used tearaway dresses to transform on stage. Their original, simple garments were ripped off with a spin, revealing the sequined, flashy dresses underneath.
The stunning costumes even had performers pondering use of the “five-finger discount.” Sophomore musical theatre major and not-so-evil stepsister Sophia Vessecchia wished she could take her “fabulous” costume and shoes home, but resisted the temptation.
Similarly, fox and raccoon puppets transformed behind the curtains into Cinderella’s acrobatic and dancey carriage drivers. Catena (the fox-turned-driver) bounded onstage with a series of tumbles, cartwheels and jumps.
For a final wow factor, the curtains lifted to reveal that the fairy godmother’s yellow pumpkin had morphed into a glowing, golden carriage, complete with warm twinkling lights.
Everything about this scene — from special effects and costume changes to Cinderella’s pimpin’ ride — left performers with a lot to balance when maneuvering this scene.
“It’s scary. You just want to make sure that it’s right every time,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just a lot of trust in myself, and everyone.”
The show’s Prince Charming, Topher (junior music theatre major Glen Chitty) — who is “not like the prince that everyone remembers from the [Disney] movie” — slayed both literally and metaphorically: killing a giant and a dragon while singing his opening number, “Me, Who Am I?”
Those monsters, portrayed with colored lights and projections of a giant green eye or flying beast onto a circular screen in the sky, were no match for Chitty who dragged the offstage “giant” down with an enormous rope and knocked the “dragon” out of the sky with his trusty slingshot. During these battles, Chitty’s character reflected on his royal-sized lack of identity and purpose. But with little time to wallow in self-doubt, Topher hops on his loyal steed, Buttercup the motorcycle.
Buttercup was originally supposed to be a horse, but the crew found a motorcycle sound effect that was too good to pass up.
“That was a decision we made on Tuesday,” Chitty explained. “On Sunday, it was a horse, and then on Monday, it was a horse. And then on Tuesday, it was the motorcycle, and then, now it’s a motorcycle.”
But Chitty reveled in more than just his “stallion” and the show’s special effects. He also loved interacting with kids after the show, a task that comes naturally to him given his side hustle of dressing up as Spiderman and Batman for children’s birthday parties. Other cast members also had a blast with their young fans, who found the show especially magical. Kathryn Lloyd, redeemed wicked stepmother and junior music theatre major, saw “two little kids” hugging Cinderella at the beginning of the show, a scene she described as “so cute.”
“It took a lot of work, but I think it really paid off,” Catena said. “That’s my favorite part of the show: just getting to see everything put together, to see the actual magic of the show and the magic of theatre.”
“Cinderella” continues this weekend with four more performances in the Center for the Arts (CFA) Drama Theater from May 5-7.
Alex Novak is an arts editor and can be reached at email@example.com
The arts desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex Novak is a senior arts editor at The Spectrum.