“Change the rules!” the audience of parents and young children shouts. Cinderella proclaims, “I do this in the spirit of woman and girl power.” Cinderella: The Remix at Imagination Stage is a children’s musical with layers – themes of sexism, racism, and intersectionality (the intersection between different forms of oppression) mixed with a cutting critique of pop culture and fairy tales. As one of the pioneers of Hip-Hop Theater, playwright and director Psalmayene 24 brilliantly remixes the Cinderella story with hip-hop beats from Nick Hernandez.
Cinderella wants to be a DJ, but female DJS aren’t allowed in Hip-Hop Hollywood – women need to know their place. She mixes her best beats in the basement of her evil stepmother Bad Ma’amajama’s house. Cinderella’s less talented stepbrother Chocolate Ice is entering a contest to be famous rapper J Prince’s DJ. With the help of Cinderella’s fairy godmother Hoperah and her best friend Chin Chilla, Cinderella is able to audition, win the gig, and change the rules of Hip-Hop Hollywood.
With references to Rosa Parks, Michelle Obama, and Susan B. Anthony, Cinderella: The Remix isn’t the light glittery affair you’d imagine at first glance. The cast takes on their roles with skill: Paige Hernandez plays Cinderella with spunk and grace and her choreography throughout the performance is playful and interesting to watch.
Baye Harell is likable and smooth as J Prince and Mark Hairston is just the right amount of “dweeby” as Chocolate Ice. The two standout performances come from Giselle LeBleu Gant as Bad Ma’amajama and Hoperah, and Katy Carkuff as Chin Chilla. Gant enters larger than life with show and smiles a la television personality Oprah (“Hoprah’s in the house!”). Carkuff is adorably awkward and raps with rhythm and clarity.
CINDERELLA: THE REMIX
Closes May 25, 2014
4908 Auburn Avenue
1 hour, 30 minutes with 1 intermission
Tickets: $12 – $25
Saturdays and Sundays with some additional dates
Cinderella: The Remix is an inspiring, snazzy and toe-tapping tale for boys and girls alike – several “grown-up” jokes are thrown into the mix, making fun of Kenny G and Miley Cyrus (“Miley Cyrus? I know you’re upset, but you don’t have to swear!”). J Prince wins the first “Kanye West Modesty Award.”
The highlight of this ninety-minute show is Cinderella’s rap ode to girl/woman power. This isn’t the Cinderella we’re used to: her prize isn’t a gown, crown, or man – it’s recognition and respect for qualities that have nothing to do with her appearance and everything to do with her unique talents.
Cinderella: The Remix is the revision I’d want my future daughters (and sons) to see.
Recommended for ages 5 – 10.
Cinderella: The Remix by Psalmayene 24 . Hip-Hop Beats by Nick Hernandez . Directed by Psalmayene 24 . Choreography: Paige Hernandez . Featuring: Paige Hernandez, Baye Harrell, Katy Carcuf, Giselle LeBleu Gant, Mark Hairston and Jacob Yeh . Composer and Music Director: Nick Hernandez . Set Designer: Ethan Sinnott. Lighting Designer: Zachary Gilbert. Costume Designer: Kendra Rai . Sound Designer: Christopher Baine . Produced by Imagination Stage . Reviewed by Rebecca Evans.