Just when you think you’ve seen Cinderella more than enough times, Puppet Co. offers yet another version enchanting enough to warrant a re-visit. Loved throughout the world, this timeless tale gets a fresh re-telling via a wonderful script by Christopher Piper that provides a back-story about the character known as Ella, beloved daughter awaiting her traveling father.
Only when the father returns with a new family do we see how the warped stepmother and sisters push sweet Ella into the role of a servant girl working in the chimney ash and cinders and mock her in derision as Cinder-Ella. As such, Piper’s script, derived from a 17th century French version, sets the characters in motion with clarity for an enlightening and enjoyable experience.
At first, Cinderella anticipates attending the fancy Ball along with all of the eligible young ladies as requested by the royal family, a reflection of her initial confidence and sense of self. When she appears in a lovely white gown with red accented material that belonged to her mother, a touching tribute, the stepmother not only berates her for thinking she can leave her chores, but degrades the look and style of the dress, pulling the accents to tatters right before our eyes.
A heartbroken Cinderella retreats in disappointment, humiliation and defeat into a sobbing mess. Just when we wonder how she will ever live out her destiny, a puff of smoke ushers in a magical mystical lady who lets the girl know that she is loved and treasured.
More like a green caped woodland sprite than a fairy God Mother, the floating spirit still packs plenty of magic and transforms squeaking mice into majestic horses, the pumpkin into a lovely carriage, and trusted kitty, “Prince Charming”—you can imagine the fun Piper’s script has with that one—into the dutiful groomsman, all within a blink of an eye.
What’s also an unexpected treat is Molly MacKenzie playing Cinderella. With the voice of an angel and movements to match, she’s enchanting and mesmerizing, radiating loveliness from her simple manner as the dutiful daughter or when she’s transformed into the most beautiful maiden at the Ball. That scene alone with everybody twirling in their gorgeous gowns is worth the trip to Glen Echo Park.
The costumes designed by Allan Stevens and created by MayField Piper are among the most beautiful I’ve seen. For the Ball, Cinderella enters in a glittering jewel encrusted white gown and silver mask while the entire entourage is also dressed up in colorful finery and multi-colored glittery masks. Meanwhile, the Real Prince Charming shows his true and simple heart by keeping on the brown rustic hunter garb that he wore from the start, offering lessons about humility and lack of pretension.
In addition to the lively script that brings the characters to life, the sophisticated puppetry relays elements of realism. In one scene the puppets seem to actually carry buckets of water where the handle hooks perfectly into their hands, a simple gesture that looks easier to accomplish than it really is.
Closes June 9, 2013
7300 MacArthur Blvd.
Glen Echo, MD.
45 minutes with no intermission
Wednesdays thru Sundays
Allan Stevens directed the show and designed the classic painted curtain set where an oval window at the back adds a sense of depth and dimension for a nice effect.
As the story concludes, the girl’s fate hangs precariously because of her sudden decision to stand her ground and reclaim her rightful name, Ella. It’s a magical moment of bravery and self –assurance, traits that we can all strive to achieve as a reflection of character. Yes, one can learn a lot from puppets and a good story. Aptly stated in the program, “Sometimes, Magic Happens,” and that’s surely the case for this adorable rendition of Cinderella at Puppet Co.
Recommended for grades K – 6.
Cinderella . adapted from the fairy tale by Christopher piper . Directed by Allan Stevens . Costumes designed by Allan Stevens . Produced by The Puppet Co . Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson