Culture

The message is the magic in Foothill’s ‘Cinderella’


While there are no magical mice in “Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” performers in Foothill Music Theatre’s production say the show will still appeal to fans of the Disney version of the fairytale.

“The magic is still there,” says San Jose resident Melissa Gialdini, who plays stepsister Gabrielle. “There’s just a deeper story to it about doing something when you have a voice.”

“It definitely still has the classic elements (of the fairytale), but with fun little twists,” agrees Sunnyvale native Christina Lea, who stars as the title character, known as Ella in the show. “She ends up falling for the prince, but there’s a lot more depth to the story. She really takes charge of her own life, and the people around her give her the tools.

“It’s not just about a woman whose dreams all come true,” Lea says. “It’s about a larger purpose.”

While the music and lyrics were written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II for a 1957 teleplay, the show finally made it to Broadway in 2013, with an updated book by playwright Douglas Carter Beane framing the traditional story.

In reading a translation of the original French fairytale by Charles Perrault, Beane discovered the fairy godmother was a beggar woman, shunned by all but the kindly Cinderella, so he added that characterization to his rewrite.

This kindness seeps into other characters who are usually thought of as ugly from the inside out. Gialdini says Gabrielle struggles with her family’s cruelty and yearns to escape with local revolutionary Jean-Michel (Jomar Martinez).

“She’s actually very kind,” Gialdini says of her character. “In the environment she’s in, it’s harder for her to show kindness. She builds a bond with Ella, who shows her it’s okay to be kind.”

Kindness also has an impact on Ella’s political activism, which is what leads her to her Prince Charming.

“She wants to change the town and make it better,” Gialdini says. “She wants to make sure the prince knows the needs of the townspeople.

“If you offer someone compassion and kindness, progress can happen quicker,” Lea adds. “People work better when they feel supported.”

Lea hopes her portrayal will help support girls and young women who don’t conform to society’s view of what a princess should look like.

“I’m very much a healthy woman,” she says. “I have curves. I look like a real person.

“What I hope people take away from the show is that you don’t have to look like a Disney princess to be one.”

“Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” runs July 18-Aug. 4 at Smithwick Theatre, Foothill College, I-280 and El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills. Tickets are $12-$32 at www.foothill.edu/theatre or 650-949-7360.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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