[Review] BHS’s Cinderella Success!

In my last post, I offered some scintillating commentary on this weekend’s bevy of local scheduled performances, one of which was the musical Curtains at Rock Bridge High School. I so wished I could teleport among all of my friends’ and colleagues’ creative endeavors these last few days. The Musician’s Teleportation Device: patent pending…

I paid my third and final visit to Battle High School, where the Vocal Arts program presented the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Cinderella. Like in all my other reviews, I haven’t been endorsed (not even in stiff drinks) for penning my thoughts. However, in this particular instance, I am probably wildly biased, in part because the leading lady is currently my private voice student, and also because the director is a long-time friend and musical comrade of mine. Consider yourself disclosed.

Battle High School appears to have the most monolithic of stages in all of Columbia, Missouri. This was my first event in the performing arts center, and I managed to ward off a slight sense of vertigo enough to appreciate that the room was controlled for temperature and sound. Some of the side sections were diligently marked off, no doubt to ensure an optimal acoustic experience. Some audience members chose to ignore this. Oh well. Can’t save them all.

Cinderella, played by the up-and-comer soprano Catera Combs: I noticed you managed to maintain your composure 100% in the initial market scene, despite the fact that your shoe had managed to escape your foot. Since it wasn’t the whole “lose your glass slipper” scene just yet, I can only assume that wasn’t supposed to happen. If anything, your shoe’s jailbreak made your character more believable and endearing. If it was intentional, nice job on the foreshadowing (ha). In this scene, I was fascinated with the engagement of every actor; there was a lot to look at, and every time my eyes scanned the stage, I was drawn to each character’s (highly believable) story. The slow-motion blocking lent itself well to the action, too.

The chemistry between the stepsisters (Elise Hardesty and Montiera Ferrell-Nelson) and stepmother (Alia Stepney) was choice. There was never an awkward interaction or ill-timed moment; the hilarity of their dialogue really helped carry the show. I didn’t quite know what to expect of the character of the Fairy Godmother, played by Haley Mullen, but her zany eccentricity worked, especially in the transition between “Impossible” and “the Transformation.” The entertaining rapport between Queen Constantina (Ariel Walker) and King Maximillian (Tyler McCutchen) was engaging, as well. Three cheers for excellent casting decisions! Although, in typing this paragraph, I noticed Maximillian’s character was misspelled in the program, and there were a few other typos, too…nothing to lose sleep over (over which to lose sleep?), but noticeable, regardless.

Here were the highlights of the evening:

  • “Stepsister’s Lament.” Nothing like a solid kick-line to elicit applause in the middle of a song! Also, way to utilize the many wardrobe-related talents of your ensemble. Here’s the note I made about that:
don't mind the smudge: Dexter the Dachshund decided to play Lord of the Dance all over the playbill.
don’t mind the smudge: Dexter the Dachshund decided to play Lord of the Dance all over the playbill.

Pretty much.

  • The set: I wondered how a stage of colossal proportions could possibly be entirely utilized, yet it was, and spectacularly so. Also, those abstract clocks in the background (so perfectly sized and artistically proportioned across the stage, I might add) were vaguely reminiscent of Salvador Dali and helped reinforce the fairytale setting, which I felt most strongly during the hazy-beautiful “Do I Love You.” That is some glorious songwriting.
  • The silhouette scene / Finding Cinderella (that’s not really the scene title, I just made that up). Creative! And a unique way to use your dancers.
  • Two special individuals (one of whose name I’m only 90% sure about) stole my heart with their magnificent ballroom dancing. Such poise! They were positioned subtly enough not to pull focus from the scene, but the ballroom dancer in me was praising their frame, hand positions, and turns. That was a really excellent addition to the scene.
  • The attention to detail throughout: the whimsical head-shakes and hoof-pawing of the horses, the perfectly-symmetrical, gargantuan chandeliers (the biggest one was in the middle…well done), the Lion King / Michael Jackson reference (that had Jazz Rucker written all over it), the thoughtful ballroom-scene choreography (dancers paired by height). It all was positively eye-candy and pleasing.

To the cast and the general public: I’m sorry that I didn’t get a chance to post this with enough time to plug the last remaining matinee. Life intervened. Excuses, excuses. Still, though, I thought it necessary to sing your praises…

The truths of what I’m about to say will probably ring undeniably cliche, but the older I get and the more performances, musicals, and shows I attend, the more I come to appreciate the privilege of consuming art. Mandatory recital attendance in college used to be ridiculously burdensome, so much so that for almost six months after I graduated, I barely went to anything in an attempt to recover from what I only now understand to be an undeniable, extraordinary component of musicianship. It’s an intense honor to be an audience member whose only obligation is to let loose their reservations, to listen unconditionally, to devour and relish what has been created for you. Perhaps I’ve grown closer to the experience because over the years, I so rarely find myself in the situation of simply attending an event without having some part in its organization, preparation, or execution. Maybe having my very students, friends, colleagues, and teachers doing the creating is what has made concert-going more personal and near to my heart. Or maybe it’s because I’m intimately familiar with the musical trials and tribulations of the girl who played Cinderella. Either way, attending this particular show, I felt the inner stirring of something I hadn’t felt in a long time. Thank you to the cast, orchestra, and crew of Cinderella for proving that there really is Music In Me. 

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