Composers Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein III.
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Music by Richard Rodgers
Book & Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Directed by Barbara O’Daniel-Munger

Reviewed by Craig Nolan Highley

Entire contents are copyright © 2012, Craig Nolan Highley. All rights reserved.

Mummers & Minstrels is a community theater group that has been performing one big show a year since 1958, back when they used to create original musicals and perform them in the backyard of the company’s creator, Mavis McGhee. Mummers holds a special place in my heart, as they are the group that got me started in theater, way back in 1997 in the chorus of Hello, Dolly!, so I’m always thrilled to be able to go back and revisit them from time to time.

While they don’t always choose the best material for their productions, their shows are usually well done and crowd pleasing. For their latest offering, they’ve dusted off Rodgers & Hammerstein’s only made-for-TV musical, Cinderella, and for the most part they have succeeded once again in creating a nice evening of family entertainment.

The familiar fairy tale of a sad servant girl, wicked stepmother, fairy godmother, ugly stepsisters, handsome prince and glass slipper is enhanced by some truly great R & H songs, but sadly Hammerstein’s libretto is not one of his best. Written for television broadcast in 1957, it was already dated enough that it had to be substantially re-written for the 1967 broadcast and again for the 1997 film. It’s also been slated to receive a cover-to-cover overhaul for a new Broadway production in 2013.

The cast that director Barbara O’Daniel-Munger has assembled does manage to liven up the frankly corny script. Particularly memorable was Cindy Smith as the eternally cheerful Fairy Godmother, channeling Billie Burke’s Glinda the Good Witch without going over the top. Andrew McGill makes an impression as a non-traditional Prince Charming, but the character is given surprisingly little to do. Liam O’Daniel-Munger acts the hell out of the role of the Wicked Stepmother, a surprising casting choice considering in this show female impersonators usually play the stepsisters, not the stepmother. And speaking of the stepsisters, Amanda Kyle Lahti and Stacy Mullins imbue them with so much broad comedy they steal every scene they’re in. Simply a delight to watch.

O’Daniel-Munger’s direction keeps things flowing nicely, and the sets by Bob Harrett and Gary Tipton and costumes by Jane Burke are nothing short of amazing, really creating a fairytale world. The lighting effects were serviceable, though I’m not sure they were always doing what they were supposed to be doing; some of the effects just seemed to not be working.

During the intermission the company stepped out on stage to award a member with an Outstanding Mummers award. This was a nice touch, and done at an appropriate point in the evening. However, half-way through the second act the performance was stopped by two board members who stepped out on stage to announce raffle winners. This was completely inappropriate and frankly rather insulting to the director and performers who worked very hard to maintain the flow of the performance. It was a very unprofessional thing to do and completely unnecessary, considering there were plenty of other times it could have been done: before the show started, during the intermission or after the curtain call. I don’t know if my review will post in time for it to make any difference on this show, but I do hope they won’t do that again in future productions. It is just this type of thing that screams AMATEUR PRODUCTION to your audience.

Other than that one annoyance, though, it is a well-done show and definitely a crowd pleaser. I overheard a little girl behind me, every time the show went to a blackout, asking her mother, “It’s not over yet, is it?” Sounds like a ringing endorsement to me!

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella

Starring Shelby Ackerman, Jason Bruck, Jane Burke, Sarah Clark, Jennifer Fraser, Carolyn Gambrell, David Gambrell, Erin Heckel, Annika Hileman, Devon Hill, Zac Holman, Amanda Kyle Lahti, Makayla League, Jack Lowe, Jan Lowe, Andrew K. McGill, Stacy Mullins, Liam O’Daniel-Munger, Rick O’Daniel-Munger, Riley Morrissey, Alex Pappas, Richard Ray, Todd Rogers, Lilia Rosario, Cindy Smith, Ralph Snowberger, Olivia Thompson and John Trueblood.

March 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 8:00 PM
March 11 and 18 at 2:00 PM

Tickets: $12 Adults, $10 Seniors/Students
Tickets Sold at the Door

Mummers & Minstrels at Anchorage School
11400 Ridge Road
Anchorage, KY 40223