The Yale secondary musical theatre department presents its production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella starting Feb. 15 at the Abbotsford Arts Centre.
Artistic director Willis Taylor, who has been involved with Yale’s musicals for 18 years, said the full-length Broadway production is being modelled after the “Enchanted” version.
That was first produced for the stage in 1997 after the third television production of Cinderella was aired with a contemporary take on the classic tale, starring singer Brandy in the lead role and Whitney Houston as the fairy godmother.
The first two TV productions had featured Julie Andrews (in 1957) and Lesley Ann Warren (in 1965) in the lead role.
The Enchanted version features the same classic moments as the original – such as the pumpkin, the glass slipper and the masked ball – with some surprising new twists.
Taylor said he chose Cinderella based on his own family’s tastes.
“My kids grew up with it and they loved it, and most of the students know it because their parents had it (on video or DVD),” he said.
Taylor said he likes the Enchanted version because of its humour that involves “a lot of 1990s colloquialisms” and its “colour-blind” approach to the story in terms of its casting.
The Yale secondary cast of about 25, as well as 15 members of the live orchestra under the guidance of musical director Allen Reynolds, have been rehearsing four days a week since the start of the school year.
Taylor said among the biggest challenges the students have faced is performing the production’s “semi-operatic” tunes.
“It takes some skilled singers. Luckily, we have a few of those.”
Cinderella is the school’s 25th anniversary production, and Taylor estimates each show now attracts about 300 audience members.
Last year, they performed Shrek the Musical.
Key roles in this year’s production include Nada Moorthy and Emily Smith sharing the role of Cinderella, Elizabeth Richardson and Kaili Vermeeren as the stepmother, Katharine Richardson and Jessica Spenst as the Fairy Godmother, and Jared Marshall and Chris Sherwood as Christopher.
The production takes place Feb. 15 at 2:30 p.m. and Feb. 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Abbotsford Arts Centre, 2329 Crescent Way.
Tickets are $15 and are available at the school office (34620 Old Yale Rd.) or by calling the school at 604-853-0778.
Photo above: Nada Moorthy and Jared Marshall rehearse their roles of Cinderella and the Prince (Christopher) in the Yale Secondary production of the Broadway musical.