Albert Einstein High School
Complete with pumpkins, evil stepmothers, glass slippers, and a happy ending, Thomas S. Wootton High School brought the classic fairytale of Cinderella to dazzling life on stage.
Composed by the iconic team of Rodgers and Hammerstein for a 1957 television broadcast, the production has since taken many forms, including two subsequent television adaptations, US and Asian tours, and finally a 2013 Broadway production starring Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana. It tells the beloved story of Cinderella, a young girl stuck slaving for her cruel stepmother and vapid stepsisters after the death of her father. Nevertheless, she is kindhearted and fanciful, using her wild imagination to picture a more adventurous life. Aided by her fairy godmother, Cinderella fulfills her dream of attending the Prince's ball and is whisked away on a whirlwind of romance, excitement and magic.
The epitome of everything a Disney Princess should be, Emily Ray gave an awe-inspiring performance as Cinderella. From her adorable giggles and mannerisms to her angelic and effortless vocals, Ray infused spunk and grace with every moment on stage. Her effervescence was effortlessly complemented by Krystian Ochman's charming Prince Topher. Ochman's smooth and controlled vocals only added to his character's dreamy presence, and the two's natural chemistry drew endless squeals from the audience.
Taylor Litofsky and William Memmott also had winning chemistry as Cinderella's less-than-evil stepsister Gabrielle and the fiery Jean Michel. Litofsky's endearing innocence and portrayal of a daughter conflicted between her family and her heart was impressive, and Memmott's solid vocals and clear passion made his character's sincerity all the more heartwarming.
Powerful in her elegance, Sophia Koval was exceptional in the role of Marie (the Fairy Godmother). Her strong and operatic voice captivated the audience and captured the true fairy tale quality of the show. Daria Kerschenbaum provided a deliciously cruel contrast as Cinderella's evil stepmother, and her iconic cackles and barbed insults were both well-executed and entertaining. Other standouts included Julia Bergel as the hilarious and overlooked Charlotte, and Matthew Rosenthal as the reliable and dulcet-toned Lord Pinkleton.
The ensemble gave a dedicated and dynamic performance, infusing energy and character into large scenes and executing their choreography with grace and precision. The colorful costumes were gorgeous and detailed, eliciting gasps from the audience during the iconic transformation scene, and the picturesque sets were well thought out and delightful, providing a perfect background for the action on stage. The pit orchestra was particularly impressive, playing with the precision and expressiveness of professionals, and the special effects and unique props added another layer of magic to the fairy tale setting.
Overall, the performers of Thomas S. Wootton High School put on a vocally impressive and spellbinding production of this classic fairy tale, that captivated and exhilarated their enraptured audience.
Loudoun Valley High School
A high school creating a fairytale musical full of heartfelt optimism and stellar vocals seems about as impossible as a plain yellow pumpkin becoming a golden carriage. That being said, T.S. Wooton High School easily accomplished this feat with their latest production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella".
One of the most iconic stories of our time, versions of "Cinderella" has been adapted into countless movies, books, and stories. However, it wasn't until 1957 that the first musical version was created as a T.V. special, starring Julie Andrews. Almost 60 years later, in 2013, this Rodgers and Hammerstein show made its Broadway debut and glass slippers finally graced the New York stage.
Ella (Emily Ray) seemed as though she came straight out of a fairytale. Everything about her, from her clear soprano voice to her friendship with various woodland creatures, was the very picture of a princess. Her kindness and innocence paired perfectly with the charming Prince Topher (Krystian Ochman). The chemistry between them was simply magical, while their voices complemented each other perfectly in their numerous duets. Ochman had every audience member swooning as he crooned his solo numbers. The song "Loneliness of Evening" showcased his voice and his desperation to find Ella once again.
Topher's entourage was made up of two especially memorable characters: Sebastian (Matthew Bottiglieri) and Lord Pinkleton (Matthew Rosenthal). Bottiglieri played his character cunning and rat-like, while hilariously mocking the prince in his attempt to find Ella. Every spare moment on stage was spent scheming. He was juxtaposed by Rosenthal, who took great pride in being the kingdom's local announcer. His bubbly personality and bewitching voice made every royal proclamation exciting.
Daria Kerschenbaum as Madame, the evil stepmother, was perfectly malicious. She over exaggerated her malevolent nature without falling into stereotypes, adding deliciously evil humor to every scene with her elegant physique and unbridled hatred of kindness. Her two daughters, Charlotte (Julia Bergel) and Gabrielle (Taylor Litofsky) were equally impressive. Bergel's down-to-earth, constantly hungry portrayal of Charlotte was hilarious and perfectly relatable. Her song "Stepsisters Lament" showcased her belting and recognized the perfectly ordinary girls out there who are overlooked by every Prince Charming. Madame's other "real daughter" Gabrielle was adorably heartsick for the dashing revolutionary Jean-Michel (William Memmott). Her inner struggle between obeying her mother and being her own person was heart wrenching, while the relationships she forged with Jean-Michel and Ella were authentic and utterly captivating.
The use of a smoke machine paired with LED lights gave the entire show a mystical feel. The various on-stage quick changes and epic chase sequence were all pulled off beautifully by the actors, bringing the magic behind this classic tale to life. The pumpkin carriage, decked out with sparkles and lights galore, was a ride fit for a princess.
With whimsy and wonder galore, T.S. Wooton High School's production of "Cinderella" truly proved that one pair of shoes can change your life.