“Cinderella” – The Phoenix Theatre Company

Theater Review – November 20, 2022


The Phoenix Theatre Company, Mainstage Theatre
Phoenix AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

As you enter The Phoenix Theatre Company’s Mainstage Theatre for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s enchanting “Cinderella,” you leave the world of unrest, election deniers, unjustified wars, political discontent, and today’s general turmoil as you escape into a beautiful fairy tale place where dreams come true. There’s melodic music and the well-known story as the show creates a luminescent cloud.  Everybody needs such diversion as we confront daily living.

Based on the 1957 television version that featured a young Julie Andrews, this script is blessed with Douglas Carter Beane’s 2013 revision used when the show first played Broadway.

Still full of beautiful settings, fanciful costumes, richly intricate dances, and the splendor of the Royal Court, the Prince finally weds Cinderella.  There’s an extraordinary singing and dancing cast as scenery swirls and twirls around creating the title character’s modest home to the Palace’s opulence along with the horse drawn, pumpkin-inspired carriage.  It’s still a fantasy but Beane’s book creates subtle comparisons to our troubled and hypocritical world.  The characters parallel many contemporary people crafting chuckles and guffaws.  Rodgers’ rich score is intact with subtle additions from the composer’s other scores.

An exemplary cast of local favorites dazzles as the superficial characters never stop moving in Michael Barnard’s airy staging that optimistically flashes the tale’s boundless joyfulness.

If you need a story recap, Cinderella, nicknamed Ella, is treated as a servant by her evil stepmother, Madame, and her two stepsisters, Charlotte and Gabrielle. Charlotte lacks Cinderella’s charm, beauty, and brains.  Gabrielle has her own self-interests that make her more understanding.  Topher, the Prince, still wants to find a loving wife.  His initial glimpse of Cinderella infatuates him but he struggles to win her.

The tiny TPTC stage is filled with huge scenery that moves effortlessly around as Barnard’s fast-paced staging keeps the show breezing along as it equals the best of current Broadway musicals.

Joy Del Valle is a glistening Ella who sings divinely.  Sally Jo Bannow’s accusatory Madame slowly loosens as she better understands life.  Michelle Chin shows a softer side of Gabrielle while Kate Cook’s unknowing Charlotte displays why she’s hated.  Maria Amorocho evolves from the frowsy Marie to the glamorous Fairy Godmother who guides Ella through her transformation.  Alex Branton is a stalwart Topher while D. Scott Withers’ snide Sebastian is a misguided Prince advisor.  A pleasing ensemble brings the other roles to vibrant life as Alan Plado’s orchestra makes the music sparkle.

TPTC’s enchanting “Cinderella” is the ideal family holiday show.  The captivating musical runs through January 1, 2023.  To order tickets, call The Phoenix Theatre Company box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: A