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Kidding Around has a ball with Cinderella

by Jason Madanjian / Beacon Staff • February 28, 2013

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Emerson students present Cinderella through the direction of Eric Maxwell.
Emerson students present Cinderella through the direction of Eric Maxwell.

Bickering, bratty sisters believe they deserve the prince’s love. After all, they are the perfect bachelorettes: One constantly pouts while the other has an obnoxious laugh and an even worse haircut. On Monday and Tuesday nights, Kidding Around presented Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s musical Cinderella, in the Greene Theater of the Tufte Performance and Production Center. The tale is familiar, but the group added a fresh coat of paint to the classic story. The show sold out its two night run.

Directed by junior marketing communication major Eric Maxwell, this tuneful take featured the standard tropes of the glass slipper, Prince Charming, and the pumpkin carriage. But Maxwell said he also wanted to leave his own visual mark on this timeless tale.

“We haven’t changed the book or music, but I wanted to change the aesthetic,” said Maxwell. “The story is the same; it’s the illustrations that are different.”

His version takes place in a more grounded setting. It’s not nearly as old fashioned as the 1950 Disney animated version, or as kitschy as the 1997 television adaptation with Whitney Houston and Brandy. 

The visual palate of the show features earth tones and is inspired by a beach wedding motif. Most of the characters are barefoot. The female characters wore pastel, cheery dresses, looking ready to star in a Wes Anderson film. 

In the title role in her first major Emerson production was freshman performing arts major Kat Solko. Like any princess in the making, Solko’s Cinderella is sugary sweet and optimistic — even a bit naïve. Cinderella believes, with the right attitude, that she can turn her reveries into realities.

“I tried to find the basic components of her,” said Solko, of discovering the true character within the princess. “She has dreams and she’s determined to get them, which is something I could relate to.”

The first song of the show, entitled “The Sweetest Sound,” is a romantically hopeful tune during which Cinderella and the prince, played by sophomore visual and media arts major Ethan Weiser, fight to find what they’ve both been missing: true love.

Sophomore marketing communication major Molly Ronis portrayed Cinderella’s fairy godmother; in this production, she plays Cinderella’s friend as opposed to a maternal figure.

“You get nervous about mimicking the way the character has been done in the past,” said Ronis. “So you need to bring your own personal elements.”

Ronis said she called upon her own friendships to adapt into the more casualrelationship her character now shares with Cinderella.

“She gets very sassy with Cinderella,” said Ronis, who credits easy chemistry with Solko for helping to inform her performance. “It’s very comfortable and casual.”

Cinderella is in disbelief after meeting her rather chic-looking guardian. The fairy godmother shoots back, “if you’d rather have an old lady in a tutu…”. 

But with that sass comes sincerity. The fairy godmother doesn’t give Cinderella everything she ever wanted. She simply gives her that extra push of confidence to follow her heart.