By Joshua Lee
From fairy godmothers disguised as crazy old ladies to plain yellow pumpkins becoming golden carriages, Dominion High School made the impossible possible in its magical production of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.”
This reiteration of the iconic story of Cinderella was written by the legendary duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Originally written for television in 1957, the musical follows a poor, yet imaginative girl named Ella who lives with her less than kind step-family and leads her on a magical adventure that brings her to her love, Prince Topher. After the television event, it was performed on the stage a number of times; finally, in 2013, it premiered on Broadway and starred Laura Osnes as Ella and Santino Fontana as Prince Topher.
From the beginning, Prince Topher, played by Eli Pafumi, had strong characterization with his distressed and unhappy expressions, and his strong and smooth voice supported his royal and princely nature. His character development from an unsatisfied and inexperienced prince into an in-love and strong leader was clear with subtle changes in his character.
Playing Topher’s true love was Kathryn Allen, who portrayed the title character of Cinderella. Allen was an obvious standout actress. Her silky and beautiful singing voice matched her warm and kind character that she played with great acting choices. Ella’s transformation from a shy and quiet little girl into a bold and confident princess was very apparent.
Some other standouts of the show were in the step-family. Madame, played by Noelle Hunter, and Gabriella and Charlotte, played by Emma Karren and Marley Guilfoyle, had very specific mannerisms and traits that helped their characters to contrast like a real family. Their vocals and humor were fantastic and their song with Ella, “A Lovely Night”, showed off their ability to blend and do harmonies beautifully.
The tech of the show was subtle, yet smart. The lights were used in a way that helped transition scenes and there were little to no problems with the sound. The set was very versatile, portraying the prince’s castle, the woods, and an enormous clock.
Dominion High School’s “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” was very professional and well done. From the alluring singing to the well thought out and distinct characters and even the flexible set, everything worked together to create the complete, immersive, and ultimately fantastical world of Cinderella.
[The writer, Joshua Lee is a student at Freedom High School. This review of the April 1 performance at Dominion High School is part of a series published in a partnership between Loudoun Now and The Cappies, a writing and awards program that trains high school theatre and journalism students to be expert writers, critical thinkers, and leaders.]