It’s here, it’s here! It’s finally here! The opening night performance of Pittsburgh Musical Theater’s Cinderella!! There’s so many things to tell you about so, a la Dave Letterman Top Ten style, here are the….
TOP TEN REASONS TO SEE PMT’S CINDERELLA!
10. THE SET PIECES AND COSTUME DESIGNS WERE EXQUISITE!
Big kudos to stage manager Gemma Williamson, costume designer Michelle Nowakowski, scenic designer Jonathan T. Sage, lighting designer Todd Nonn, and prop mistress Amber Kocher. As I said before, I was extremely fortunate to sit in on a rehearsal and while that rehearsal really was impressive, I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the curtain open and reveal the stage. It was so well crafted and beautifully done. The backdrops were gorgeous, especially during The Transformation scene and at the ball. I believe the word is Breathtaking.
9. THE MUSIC WAS INFECTIOUS AND CONTAGIOUS…NOT IN A SICK OR GROSS WAY EITHER.
Foot-tapping, ladies and gents. Foot-tapping. 19 songs altogether, I was hummin’ like a bird as I left the theater. (Not during though. Oh god, never during! I HATE when people hum during a show!)
8. YOU’LL LAUGH. A LOT. AND LOUDLY. AND THEN PEOPLE WILL LOOK AT YOU AND CALL YOU SIR LAUGHS-A-LOT.
The Wicked Stepmother and Stepsisters, played with mesmerizing glee by Brynn Hambley, Delaney Martin and Marnie Quick easily got the most laughs out of the crowd. Their body language alone was worth the price of admission. They were loud dervishes of colorful, whirlwind energy. When they came onstage, they lighted it up like whoa. (Brush ya shoulder.)
Greg Messmer as the King and Leah Grimm as his Queen also played to wonderful effect. Messmer had the audience hysterical…or was it his pants???
And the little mice…so adorable!!!!
7. THERE’S NOT A BAD SEAT IN THE HOUSE.
Performed in the much more intimate space of the Byham Theater, even if you’re sitting in the very back, you still have a great view. Everything was easy to see and easy to hear.
6. IT’S A VERY GOOD LOVE STORY
And j’adore a good love story. You’ll find yourself canting your head and smiling, especially during Boys and Girls Like You and Me. (Act one.) You’ll find yourself breathing in and then sighing happily, particularly when Rosemary Baird’s Cinderella finishes singing about how not even never-ending commands and insults can stop her from dreaming. (Act one.) And you’ll find yourself holding your breath when the Prince finally comes face to face with the girl he’s been looking for – and doesn’t even know it. (Act two.) So basically, you’ll find yourself enjoying this show immensely.
5. COLLEEN PETRUCCI AND HER IMPECCABLE CHOREOGRAPHY NEARLY STOLE THE SHOW
Um excuse me, but was I actually in the audience of Dancing with the Stars or was I at the Byham Theater because man, the dancing in this show is fantastic. Colleen choreographed the Ballroom scenes so every couple could be seen and every step could be appreciated. The cast moved in perfect harmony, their costumes like gently swaying coral. (Wow, that was a lot of c-words in one sentence. But it’s true.) It was a highlight of the show.
4. CAPA ORCHESTRA. NEED I SAY MORE???
Okay, I’ll totally say more. First, I had no idea the show would be accompanied by live orchestra. So that was a very pleasant surprise. As the orchestra played, starting with an amazing, energetic overture that easily morphed into an elegant first number (The Prince is Giving a Ball) and all the way through to the ballad Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful – the song before the intermission – I just kept thinking to myself again and again how wonderful the orchestra sounded. BUT…it was only during intermission that I realized the orchestra was comprised of CAPA students! As a Rogers CAPA grad myself, I was so proud and happy! They sounded uh-may-zing. Er-ma-gawd! I loved them and trust me, you will too. We’re talking professional, high caliber talent.
3. MARIAN EMANUELSON AS THE FAIRY GODMOTHER MADE ME WANT TO PUT A COFFEE CUP IN MY HAIR
I knew it when I first interviewed her: class act. I’ve said it a thousand times on this site. Okay, maybe not a thousand but I’ve said it enough that by now, it should have totally sunk in. Marian Emanuelson, with her expressive face and sweet singing voice, fit the role of the Fairy Godmother like a glove. Her joy was infectious; the entire audience was laughing and clapping and oohing and aahhing right there with her. She had them in the palm of her fairy hand….was leading them by the light of her magic wand…was showing – oh you get the picture! She was fabulous! And she sang the impossible out of her big number with Cinderella, Impossible. Showstopper. Which leads me to….
2. JOSH REARDON AS THE PRINCE (NOT IN A LITTLE RED CORVETTE) AND ROSEMARY BAIRD AS CINDERELLA.
How funny was it when the ENTIRE audience burst into a cacophony of OOOHS and AHHHHS when the Prince declares, in a voice so smooth it could make a Temptation step back, that he’s “going to kiss you now.” And when he does???? A FULL BURST OF APPLAUSE! I swear that applause lasted a good twenty seconds! Such a sweet, romantic moment…I’m grinning ear to ear as I type this! But truly, this wonderful moment of audience appreciation really drives home the point that Josh Reardon and Rosemary Baird so encapsulated their characters and what they were about. Their performances were even, their motivations straight forward. Their style was natural and their acting was brave. You got them. You understood them. You wanted them to win. You wanted them to love. You wanted a plain country bumpkin and a prince to join in marriage. (Sorry, lyric insert.) Suffice to say, you wanted them to have their happily ever after.
Rosemary was stunning as the girl so full of yearning she makes the impossible possible. Her voice was clear as a ringing bell and stretched out over the entire audience like a cool breeze. It just made you feel good. And Josh…what a surprise! He sang a small snippet of Phantom of the Opera’s Masquerade (I put him in a headlock and pretty much forced him to) when I first interviewed him but those eight bars really didn’t do his voice justice. It was rich and deep and ripe with color and perfectly complimented Rosemary’s on their duets, Ten Minutes Ago and Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful? (By the way, Ten Minutes Ago…wow. I think that was my favorite number of the night!)
1. THE SHOW IS A MAGICAL, AMAZING ESCAPE FROM ADS THAT HAVE BEEN APPROVED BY BLAH BLAH BLAH AND FROM THIS IS THE VOOOIIICCEEEE! AND THE DONALD.
If you’ve got the Election Day Blues or the Sarah Palin sickies or totally burned out on life in general, then this musical is for you. Why??? Because you can’t not feel great once you exit the theater doors. You just can’t. If the music doesn’t get you, if the orchestra doesn’t impress you, if the acting doesn’t blow you away, the story itself will. It’s a story of transformation. It’s a story of triumph. It’s a story where the bad guys get their comeuppance but never really suffer, and where the heroine shares true love’s kiss against a backdrop of stars. It’s candy, people! It’s chicken soup when you’re sick. And it was all done so well and so professionally. I really can’t stress that enough. The cast is made up of student’s from PMT’s conservatory and, from the most seasoned of them down to the youngest of the mice, they never missed a cue, a beat, a line or a note. Their toes were pointed, their tone perfect pitch. They were a joy to watch and never once did I think student production. No no. The cast of 82 (yowza!) had words floating through my head like romantic, beautiful, hysterical, inspired.
This production of Cinderella is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Congratulations to the entire cast and crew. You should be very proud for making an already awesome October day even more wonderful.