Thursdsay night, it didn't matter where you were sitting in the Sarofim Hall at the Hobby Center, you could see every detail: the bark on the trees, the bead work, the ruffles. The place was packed for Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, with little girls everywhere. I counted at least ten princess dresses in my section alone.
It was a night of splendor and imagination, with perfectly coordinated costume changes that came out of nowhere. A beggar woman clad in brown rags and an oversized cloak spun around just once to transform into a fairy godmother, all decked out in a form-fitting violet bustle. Meanwhile, Cinderella had not one, but three surprise dress alterations that happened so fast that if you blinked at the wrong time, you might miss the whole thing.
If the costumes were straight out of a fairy tale, so was the music, from the original score. Audrey Cardwell played a sincere, heartwarming Ella (before she added Cinder to her name), with a gentle alto range. Her facial expressions were vibrant, and even in the midst of full-cast dance numbers, I could see the emotion.
Of course, our kindhearted hero would be nowhere without a little help from her fairy godmother, and Kecia Lewis gave a grand performance. When she was disguised as Crazy Marie, you had to wonder how she’d sound singing, as her emphatic grunts and goofy pronunciations made her alter ego seem off her rocker. But once the magic came to the stage, Lewis was able to hold notes held with perfect projection and a soulful pitch. Her performance earned a well-deserved standing ovation.
Beth Glover, Kaitlyn Davidson and Aymee Garcia as the step-family gave a lot of laughs, and a giant praying mantis monster in the show’s opening added to the mythical atmosphere. My only concern was Prince Topher, played by Andy Huntington Jones, as it was difficult to hear him singing, and he often looked out of breath. I wasn’t too surprised when his voice cracked and he missed his pitch during “Loneliness of Evening.” His spoken roles were perfect, however, and I hope that whatever seemed to be affecting his voice will clear up soon.
Cinderella is a fun, family-friendly show. You might even say it's enchanting.
Through June 7 at the Hobby Center.