BY DORIS WELLE -- PERFORMANCE REVIEWER
"Cinderella" opened Tuesday night at the Okoboji Summer Theatre. This musical has combined the best of the best.
The costumes, by Rachel Hoffmann, were unique, clever and colorful. They were amazing and I give Hoffmann a standing ovation for her ingenious creativity.
Brandon PT Davis did an amazing job of designing the set. Turning a pumpkin into a coach, the smooth transitions from home to ballroom, the details of turning animals into coachmen and horses; were completed with amazing detail. Kudos to Davis!
The music was well performed. The band, under the direction of Tom Andes, had a lot of music to play and did it with enthusiasm as well as accuracy.
Director Liz Piccoli, from New York City, is also a dancer. Needless to say, her choreography plus directing skills, made this show very interesting to watch. Her cast was packed with talented singers and actors.
There were only two professional actors on the stage. Jordan Halsey portrayed Prince Topher. He was adorable. He was what every female envisions as a Prince Charming.
Gregory Stuart was well cast as Jean Michel, the soapbox-touting commoner, trying to make positive changes in the kingdom. Stuart has the most magnificent baritone voice that resonates whether speaking or singing.
Stephens College students comprised the rest of the cast on stage. Megan Wagner was Cinderella. She did a great job of being both meek and forceful when her role demanded. She sings like a beautiful lark and was delightful to watch.
I loved the powerful singing voice of Abilene Olson as Marie (the fairy godmother). She can really belt a song. When her costume hit a snag while she was singing and dancing on opening night, she never missed a beat, improvised and got out of the snafu, garnering her a well-deserved round of applause from the opening night audience.
The step-sisters were played by Morgan Walker and Emma Costello. Walker does the ditsy, brainless sister extremely well. Costello, as the brighter and nicer one, was endearing to us all.
Sydney Benton drew the task of playing a much older character, the wicked stepmother, Madame, and pulled it off amazingly well. I don't think she was as remorseful as she could have been at the end but we didn't like her character from the beginning so I suppose it really doesn't matter.
I took my 10-year-old grandson Michael with me. He just loved Cooper Slater as Lord Pinkleton and Austin Taylor Smith's portrayal of the angel. Those were his favorites of the night but he kept telling me that he loved the whole thing. I believe that to be high praise from a youngster who is more into athletics.
I think Brandon Mayville's portrayal of the sinister Sebastian was right on. He was just devious enough to be totally believable.
The ensemble members of the cast were Emmi Lintner, Meaghan Parker, Taneal Williams and Dalton Mobley. They all sang very well, danced gracefully and used facial expressions to convey their feelings.
All in all, there was not a weak link in the cast. The talent, technical ingenuity, music and dance, all brought the age-old story of Cinderella to us with a fresh perspective that was totally delightful from beginning to end.
All of the children in the audience, and there were many, enjoyed it as much as we adults did. Bravo OST for making an old tale new and fresh for us to enjoy!
"Cinderella" runs through Sunday night with two performances on Saturday.