Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the latest national tour of the 2013 Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “Cinderella” will bring romance, hope and whimsicality to the Schuster Center Feb. 9-14 courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association’s Premier Health Broadway Series.
Directed by Mark Brokaw (“Cry-Baby”) and reconceived with a wonderfully clever Tony-nominated book by Douglas Carter Beane (“The Nance,” “Xanadu”), “Cinderella,” originally written for television in 1957, delightfully incorporates a contemporary vibe into its endearing account of a sweet, imaginative young woman transformed from a meek chambermaid into a beautiful princess. In fact, Ella, as she is commonly referred, is very savvy and insightful as she desires love while fighting for her dreams in the hope of a better future.
We talked with the actress who plays Ella:
Ella the heroine
“As in the fairy tale, Cinderella is incredibly kind and compassionate toward everyone no matter how she is treated,” said Kaitlyn Davidson who stars as Ella and appeared in the Broadway production. “I think that’s a beautiful aspect of the character. Throughout the show, she particularly learns to believe in herself. Her fairy godmother helps her accomplish this and meeting the prince is also a strong moment in her development. There’s also a new character, Jean-Michel, who brings a new political, revolutionary aspect to the show, which allows the audience to see Ella as someone who cares about other people outside her own desires. Ella specifically wants to go to the ball because she just wants to have a wonderful time, and while there, maybe she’ll have a chance to talk with the prince and tell him what it’s like for those not living in the palace. Everyone becomes more three-dimensional in this adaptation. And for Ella, she becomes more of a heroine. I enjoy starting the show from a low place and gradually growing into a woman who actually believes she has the right to help others in a big way.”
Message for children
Davidson, a graduate of the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music and a native of Overland Park, Kansas, also appeared in the Broadway production of “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and portrayed Judy Haynes on tour in “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.” She is particularly attracted to Ella’s realization that the power to change her life is in her grasp. She says it’s a message perfectly suited to remind children of their inherent potential.
“I think it’s great for children, both girls and boys, to see and understand Ella is someone who is in control of her destiny than in previous incarnations,” she said. “Her fairy godmother tells her to go to the ball with the promise of possibility. Go to the ball essentially to change what you think is possible for you.”
In addition to such sparkling tunes as “In My Own Little Corner,” “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?,” “Impossible,” “A Lovely Night,” “There’s Music in You,” and “Ten Minutes Ago” the production is gorgeously accented by William Ivey Long’s Tony-winning costumes, a fabulous array of colorful gowns and specifically inventive outfits created for Ella and her Fairy Godmother Marie.
“William Ivey Long won his sixth Tony Award for these beautiful costumes,” added Davidson, who says Ella’s ball gown weighs 18 pounds and her wedding gown weighs 27 pounds. “There is no smoke and mirrors in terms of the costume changes. This tour has a great wardrobe team, and I have my own personal dresser who sets me up for success. It’s great to hear the applause when the costume changes happen. The creative team has done an amazing job of making this show magical.”
Also, Josh Rhodes’ vibrant choreography splendidly recalls the work of legendary choreographer Agnes de Mille in the rousing ensemble number “The Prince is Giving a Ball.” The creative team also consists of Tony-nominated scenic designer Anna Louizos (“In the Heights,” “High Fidelity”) and Tony-winning lighting designer Kenneth Posner (“Wicked,” “Hairspray”). Notable featured performers include Andy Huntington Jones (“Cinderella,” “Bullets Over Broadway”) as Prince Topher and Liz McCartney (“Taboo”) as Marie.
“Musical theater has a great capacity to teach us things outside the realm of being pure entertainment,” Davidson reminded. “This show tells us if you believe in yourself, anything is possible. Whether you’re young or old, I hope this show inspires you to make whatever it is you’re dreaming of possible.”