“Cinderella” at the Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) in Minneapolis recently enjoyed its opening weekend. The play is a 21st-century take on the classic fairytale with a twist, the main characters are Black and the soundtrack includes Top 40 hits. The production was heavy on audience participation. The central themes were the importance of shared humanity and character.
Cinderella was played by new CTC Acting Company member, Rajané Katurah. She has also appeared in “Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The Wiz,” and “Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax.”
Katurah played a very convincing Cinderella, effectively conveying her desire to be treated as an equal to her sisters and her undying desire to attend the ball, even if it was only for one night of magical freedom. Her attire was that of rags and a dirty dress, befitting her lot as a poor servant.
The stepsisters, Ashawnti Sakina Ford (Dorcas), Kimberly Richardson (Pearl) and stepmother Autumn Ness adeptly encouraged audience participation throughout the play. There was an amusing bit in which they asked the children and parents to stand up and scream as loud as they could when they heard the word “jelly.”
The stepmother was the focal point of sarcasm and jokes poking fun at Minnesota culture, including lines like, “Maybe you can teach Kirk Cousins how to throw this Sunday,” or “What’s the difference between the Minnesota Wild and frequent flyer miles? Frequent flyer miles earn points!” and “If I wanted to live in misery, I’d live in Fridley.” Hilarious!
The orchestra was a little bit over the top with the dance routine, but it made the audience laugh, nonetheless. They also did a comical job of highlighting various scenes in the play, including the breaking of class tradition and custom by the Prince when he expressed romantic interest in the servant girl Cinderella.
Leslie and Katurah, were a dynamic duo vocally and were believable as romantic couple finding true love and advancing the equality of classes. The fairy godmother, played by Alexcia Thompson, also added some soul to the cast with a groovy musical number and pep talk to boost Cinderella’s self-confidence.
Richardson, the second stepsister, was often goofy and added a corny-yet-comical vibe to the cast, as did Ford.
The lighting and props were elaborate and striking, especially the staircase and ballroom setting. The lavish period costumes made for a striking contrast against the songs performed such as Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk.”
Overall, this was a comical and fun production that is sure to please the kids.
“Cinderella” runs until Jan. 5, 2020 at the Children’s Theatre, located at 2400 Third Ave. S. in Minneapolis. For more info, visit www.childrenstheatre.org.