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Best written reviews for “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” performed by Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. Reviewed on April 30, 2022.

India Eddy

Albert Einstein High School


Once upon a time… there was this girl: she was poor. Once upon a time, there was this boy: he was not. The boy, a prince, slew giants and dragons and yet still he did not have a wife. So the boy threw a ball, a masquerade where he would dance with every girl in the kingdom wealthy enough to afford a ballgown. The girl wanted to go but her stepmother, a woman some might even call "evil," forbade it and would not give her a ballgown. But someone would: a fairy godmother. You know the story, you know the shoes, you know the show: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. But do you know the magic of seeing it performed by the students at Wakefield High School?


Led by Tamzin Folz as Ella, who stunned audiences with a voice as sweet as her character, and Carson Stadler as Prince Topher, who captured both the essence and comedy of his character and the beauty of the music he sang, the cast of Wakefield's Cinderella truly created the magic the audience felt. Ella's evil stepmother Madame (Isa Paley), accompanied by her scheming daughters (Penelope Wagner as Gabrielle and Katerina Larrick as Charlotte), created a charming and hilarious villain. Larrick was particularly impressive as Charlotte, creating and portraying a distinct and hilarious character in every moment they were on stage. Also adding to the villainy of the show was Rand McAvoy as Sebastian who made the audience wonder how such an awful human being could be so darn funny. The dynamic created by Paley and McAvoy as the villains, Folz and Stadler as the heroes, joined by Marcos O'Connor as Jean-Michel, and Wagner and Larrick as the stepsisters somewhere between the two, brought so much chemistry and fairytale magic to this production. Supported by an energetic and lively ensemble, the cast of this show really brought this age-old story to life.


But what is a prince without his castle, and what is a musical without its tech? The actors were aided in creating the magic of this show by a set (Jack Ploetz, Katerina Larrick, Maddie Florio) that captured exactly what it means to be a part of a fairytale, adorned with a magic carriage, a horse named Buttercup, a moon decorated with an ornate clock face, and trees that housed kind and adorable forest creatures (puppeted by Syd Dewitt and Savannah Daub). The props of the show (Mia Cummings, Ananya Mazumdar, Mikayla David, Adriana Brunner) were extensive and yet all carefully crafted and thoroughly thought out, the apples the apple vendor used even matching the lyrics in the song "In My Own Little Corner (Reprise)." The lights (Sofia Argüelles and Jack Ploetz) were detailed with specific color choices to convey the mood of any given moment, the sky falling red when the cast was in danger or pink as Ella and Topher fell in love, and the sound (Holly Purcell, Alex Duall, Eli Kreppel) underscored the performance with incredibly accurate timing and hilarity. The Wakefield Pit Orchestra played the music of the show with seeming ease in the direct view of the audience, creating a beautiful underscoring of the show that enchanted the audience.


The company of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella at Wakefield High School brought this fairytale to life on their stage, magic and all, through their impressive comedic timing, their gorgeous vocals, their high energy performances, their enchanting set, their extensive props, effective lights and sound, talented orchestra, and an understanding of what it takes to create something truly magical.

Carl Parkin

Albert Einstein High School


Watch the impossible become possible at Wakefield High School's production of "Cinderella"! Reimagined by Douglas Carter Beane for the Broadway production in 2013, this fun and witty take on the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein fairytale musical combines modern humor and social commentary with the unforgettable score of the original. The story of Ella (Tamzin Folz) and Prince Topher (Carson Stadler) has never felt so fresh, with Wakefield's storybook flair making for a great rendition of an excellent musical.


The foremost strength of Wakefield's production would have to be its aesthetic design. The sets and lighting were both helmed by Sofia Arguelles and Jack Ploetz, and the attention to detail was simply astonishing. From the beauty and construction complexity of the pumpkin carriage, to the subtle and warm lighting that was the cherry on top for that fairytale feel, the aesthetic choices of this production were consistently both creative and executed to a professional level.


The production's beauty did not mean it lacked for talent however. Both Ella and Topher proved to be strong and emotive singers with excellent ranges and vocal control, particularly highlighted in their duet number Ten Minutes Ago. Marie (Lauren Smith), the modern take on the classic Fairy Godmother, also showcased stunning acting and vocal talent, with her flowing, fairylike movements and ethereal high notes making for an excellent execution of this quintessential fairytale character.


Several comedic and supporting roles were also highlights of the show. Madame (Isa Paley), filling the role of the evil stepmother, and Charlotte (Katerina Larrick), her daughter, were both strong and spunky singers that brought not only laughs, but a perfectly lovable villainous presence to the production. Sebastian (Rand McAvoy), a hilariously hateable minister of Prince Topher, brought consistently strong comedic beats as well, his chemistry with the prince bringing out the best of both actors.


Supporting couple of social firebrand Jean-Michel (Marcos O'Connor) and not-so-evil stepsister Gabrielle (Penelope Wagner) also overflowed with chemistry, with Gabrielle in particular bringing a shy warmth and infectious joy to the show even outside of her scenes with Jean-Michel, both in tender moments with Ella and in group numbers like the memorable A Lovely Night.


Also adding to the storybook feel of the show was the ensemble. With well rehearsed dance numbers and consistent engagement in the world of the show, the ensemble truly brought this fairytale land to life. Memorable moments included the opening fight with a giant which managed a large battle scene on a high-school budget without missing a beat, as well as the Act II opening number Stepsister's Lament, which combined hilarious emotive frustration with well-executed tap dancing to great effect.


In the end, Wakefield High School's production of Cinderella was a carriage ride to a unique, wonderful world of princes, princesses, laughter, joy, and just plain fairytale fun. Be sure to stop by before the clock strikes midnight for this excellent musical.


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