By COLLETTE CAPRARA FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Take one favorite classic princess tale, bring it to life with a talented cast of actors, add cupcakes and sprinkles for all, and you have the recipe for the delightful current feature of Riverside Children’s Theater. The musical production of “Cupcakes and Sprinkles: Cinderella’s Glass Slipper” follows closely to the plot of the original fairy tale but adds a bit of spice and humor and introduces a few new characters along the way.
One new face is an excitable neighbor lady Mistress Haughty (Susan Rearick), who can scarcely contain herself with the imagined prospect that the Prince (Marcus Bell) may prefer “older women” and choose her as his betrothed. The appearance of an apprentice (Shana Lambert) to the kind and wise Fairy Godmother (Kimberly McDowell) opens a behind-the-scenes glimpse of magic-making. And as Atilla the cat, Muggs Leone comically kicks his character up a notch, capturing convincing feline movements—including a chase after the little mouse (Natalie Mullanaphy). He even manages to deliver his one line “Meow!” in a myriad of ways.
As the story begins, the kingdom’s crier Majordomo (played by Josh Bartosch in the production’s debut) conveys—in his long-winded and roundabout style—the news that the prince will choose a bride. With hopes of being selected as the future queen, Cinderella’s selfish stepsisters Cleopatra (Alyssa Kenton) and Brunhilda (played by Caroline Parker in the Saturday debut) pompously primp and pose, trying to upstage one another as Stepmother (Anne Lloyd) continually intervenes. The trio sets off for the castle ball, leaving poor Cinderella (Nina Maliszewski) alone at the hearth.
Even in her rags and soot, Cinderella captures the heart of the children in the audience who cry out with an encouraging (Go!) when her Fairy Godmother presents her with the prospect of attending the ball. Cinderella’s transformation in her lovely gown and tiara is greeted by oohs and aahs from the audience, many of whom have donned their own princess costumes for the occasion.
In a coach provided by friendly Pumpkinhead (Zechariah Beale), Cinderella is off to the palace. Meanwhile at the royal ball, presided by the queen (Kathy Benitez), the poor prince does his best to evade the onslaught of greedy ladies who offer their hand and escapes only with the help of the Captain (Matt Cornpropst). After all the ladies’ advances are exhausted, and the palace ballroom is nearly vacant, the prince chances to meet his one true love, Cinderella. But as the clock strikes midnight, Cinderella makes a hasty retreat before her enchanted transformation comes to an end and leaves behind one of her spun-glass slippers.
Thus begins the prince’s search through the kingdom to find the one whose foot the shoe will fit. When at last he is reunited with his love, the Fairy Godmother grants Cinderella one final wish. With her typical compassion, Cinderella does not demand that her stepsisters receive their just desserts but only that their “hearts of ice be changed to nice.” With that, the celebration of the royal engagement begins. The Fairy Godmother recaps the dual moral of the drama—“If you are nicer you will be happier” and “If the shoe fits, wear it!”—and all live happily ever after.
Director Jessica Lane stresses the value of theater as a means of achieving self-expression and empathy as well as gaining an appreciation of the importance of working together and collaborating. Lane said she particularly appreciated the support and innovations offered by her choreographer Muggs Leone (who reveled in the range of musical genres in this production), music director Keri Durrett (who stepped up in a pinch to fill the role of an actor as well) and costume designer Gaye Law (who magically produced just the right outfits from the theater’s stockroom).
As a child, Lane was first introduced to the magical world of live performances through a children’s show at Riverside Theater and credits her dad with keeping that spark of interest alive through his encouragement.
“From personal experience, I know that the theater can provide a bonding experience for families and that it can create lifelong shared memories,” Lane said. “I hope that families will come to experience the fun of this show and maybe go home feeling inspired and that they can do anything they truly want to do.”