By Heidi Sutton
The John W. Engeman Theater closes its 2022-2023 children’s theater season with the timeless tale of Cinderella, much to the delight of all the little princesses that showed up to last Saturday morning’s performance. With music by Jeanne Bargy and Jim Eiler and book and lyrics by Eiler, the story closes follows the original with a few hilarious twists and turns along the way.
We first meet the fairy godmother who “with a wave of a wand can make all of your wishes come true.” Looking at a list of the neediest cases of the day she discovers Ella, an orphan who lives with her evil stepmother and two demanding stepsisters Henrietta and Gertrude. Ella is treated like a servant and has to sleep in the kitchen by the fire, giving her the nickname Cinderella.
The audience is then whisked away to the castle where King Darling III is making arrangements to throw a ball so that his son Prince Charming can find a girl to marry before his 21st birthday. Invitations are sent out and as always poor Cinderella must stay behind but her fairy godmother will make things right. With a little bit of magic she turns a pumpkin into a royal coach and a handful of cinders become a beautiful ball gown complete with glass slippers. At the ball the prince is immediately smitten with Cinderella as they waltz the night away. But the stroke of midnight changes everything.
Directed and choreographed by Danny Meglio, the fast-paced production is clever, funny and charming.
Olivia Giorgio is perfectly cast as Cinderella. Her recurring solo, “What Will Become of Me?” is heartfelt. Her fairy godmother, played to the hilt by Lacey Cornell, comes down into the audience often to talk to the children, giving time for set changes, and is often “invisible” on stage, assessing the situation before taking action.
Natalie Seus has much fun in her role as the evil stepmother as do Alyssa Infranco and Miranda Jo Demott as the stepsisters who invent a special dance at the ball, the Sneeze Polka, which the entire audience is invited to take part in.
Michael Fasciano draws the most laughs in his role as the extremely near-sighted King Darling III who is always walking in the wrong direction or mistaking one person for another. If not for the assistance of the Royal Guards, played by Jae Hughes and Gabe Cruz, he would’ve walked right off the stage!
The handsome Ryan McInnes makes a fine Prince Charming who only wants to marry for love. A highlight of the show is when he and the Royal Guards come into the audience and give little girls a chance to try on the glass slipper before the stepsisters have a go at it.
Special mention must also be made of the costumes and wigs designed by Laura McGauley. From Cinderella’s dress to the fairy godmother’s robe to the purple wigs on the stepsisters, everything was magical.
Light-up wands are sold before and during intermission, costumes are encouraged and booster seats are available. Meet, greet and get autographs from the entire cast in the lobby after the show. An autograph page is conveniently located at the back of the program.
The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents Cinderella on Saturdays and Sundays through Aug. 27. The 2023-2024 season kicks off with The Wizard of Oz from Sept. 23 to Oct. 29 and Frosty from Nov. 25 to Dec. 31. All seats are $20. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.