Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
National Tour
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's reviews of Akeelah and the Bee, Pericles, Guys and Dolls and Oliver!


Kaitlyn Davidson and Andy Huntington Jones
Photo by Carol Rosegg
If the little girls in princess gowns watching the tour of Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella at Washington's National Theatre are any indication, the show is a success on its own terms. Older audiences might not be as happy with the mishmash book writer Douglas Carter Beane makes of the old story, introducing a socially significant subplot that adds little but running time.

Composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist and original book writer Oscar Hammerstein II created "Cinderella" for television in 1957 (with Julie Andrews), with subsequent versions in 1965 (starring Leslie Ann Warren) and 1997 (Brandy). This production marks the first time the score appeared on Broadway, where it opened in 2013. Each of the earlier versions had a different book, but they all followed the story about the kindly, abused young woman who wins the heart of a prince through magical intervention without getting into issues of class struggle.

In this version, Ella (Kaitlyn Davidson) is not only gentle and sensitive, she's intelligent. The orphaned Prince Topher (Andy Huntington Jones) is handsome and brave, but he allows his advisor Sebastian (Blake Hammond, playing as broadly as a Disney villain) to run the country.

As reimagined by Beane, Sebastian proposes the ball as a political stratagem to distract the people from his rapacious policies, and Ella—who supports the views of the firebrand Jean-Michel (David Andino, earnest and endearing) and her stepsister Gabrielle (Kimberly Fauré), who loves him—talks to the prince about income inequality even as they fall in love. ("How can he be a world leader? He has a heart, a mind, and a soul," Ella wonders.) The glass slippers are still an important part of the plot, as is the transformation of the neighborhood eccentric Crazy Marie (Liz McCartney) into a resplendent fairy godmother.

Davidson gives a lovely performance and Jones is appropriately noble as he finds his purpose, but the supporting players tend to take the focus. In addition to McCartney and Andino, Blair Ross is deliciously nasty as the stepmother, while Fauré and rowdy Aymee Garcia do well as the stepsisters.

Director Mark Brokaw keeps the action moving at a good pace and makes the most of the moments of spectacle, especially the appearance of the flying filigree coach and horses covered with small lights (part of Anna Louizos' picture-book scenic design) and the swirling revelation of William Ivey Long's flashiest costumes.

The National Theatre
Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
November 18th - 29th
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
New book by Douglas Carter Beane
Original book by Oscar Hammerstein II
Ella: Kaitlyn Davidson
Woodland Creature: Audrey Cardwell, Lauren Sprague
Topher: Andy Huntington Jones
Lord Pinkleton: Chauncey Packer
Sebastian: Blake Hammond
Marie: Liz McCartney
Jean-Michel: David Andino
Madame: Blair Ross
Gabrielle: Kimberly Fauré
Charlotte: Aymee Garcia
Fox: Rachel Fairbanks, Tanner Ray Wilson
Raccoon: Chip Abbott, Lauren Lukacek
Footman: Tanner Ray Wilson
Driver: Chip Abbott
Lady of Ridicule: Lauren Lukacek
Knights, Townspeople, Lord and Ladies of the Court, Peasants: Chip Abbott, Adrian Baidoo, Summer Broyhill, Audrey Cardwell, Cody Davis, Rachel Fairbanks, Alexandra Frohlinger, Lauren Lukacek, Sean Seymour, Lauren Sprague, Paige Williams, Tanner Ray Wilson, Thad Turner Wilson, John Yi
Directed by Mark Brokaw
Choreographed by Josh Rhodes
The National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 1-800-447-7400 or thenationaldc.org
For more information on the tour, visit
cinderellaonbroadway.com.


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