MAGNOLIA — Like every good story, it begins with “once upon a time.”
At St. Thomas More Academy on Tuesday, the orchestra started to play the first bars from the soaring score.
A fairy godmother, played by senior Lizzy Stant, walked across the makeshift stage in a glitzy dress.
“Once upon a time in a kingdom far away, there lived a lovely little girl who smiled throughout the day,” she said.
Tonight, students are moving their act to Dover’s Schwartz Center for the Arts for opening night of “Cinderella.”
“I don’t think there’s a more classic fairy tale,” said director Lorraine Steinhoff, who teaches drama at St. Thomas More.
“There’s something about a story that connects to everyone,” she said.
“Cinderella,” with music by Richard Rodgers and a book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, tells the classic tale of
a young woman forced into a life of servitude by her cruel stepmother and stepsisters, who wishes for a better life.
And in “Cinderella,” dreams really do come true.
With the help of her fairy godmother, she is transformed into a princess and finds her prince.
It had never been on Broadway until about three years ago.
Ms. Steinhoff applied for the rights to the show about a year ago, but she said they weren’t available while
“Cinderella” was still playing in New York. The show closed in January.
“When I was researching I realized that every country, culture ... has their own version of Cinderella,” Ms. Steinhoff said.
“It’s a story that, no matter what your background is, you’re familiar with.”
The musical, which was written for television, was originally broadcast live in 1957 with Julie Andrews in the title role.
The musical was remade for television twice — in 1965 starring Lesley Ann Warren and in 1997 with Brandy Norwood.
“Cinderella” is a glamorous fairy tale fantasy, with ball gowns and carriages, but it’s also something more, Ms. Steinhoff said.
“... I think that the kids and family and adults will connect to characters like Cinderella and the prince who are finding themselves, not necessarily understood by their families and not feeling like there’s anyone else out there like them,” she said.
Missy Spangler, who plays Cinderella, agreed.
“Our (version) is focusing on the beauty of actual true love,” she said.Ebube Maduku-Ugwu, playing a herald, proclaims the prince is having a ball in St. Thomas More Academy’s production of “Cinderella.”[/caption]
“Cinderella is not a Disney princess. She’s a person and she has struggles and (she) and the prince are really similar and they find that similarity in each other and that’s what they love about each other.”
Lizzy, who plays “not your traditional fairy godmother,” said that the character stays true to herself, and she teaches Cinderella to do the same.
“I just enjoy the story in general. I think it’s a really empowering story about how good always conquers over evil,” she said.
“It’s one of those traditional stories that are like that ... Cinderella, despite everything that’s happened to her, she’s always had a good heart. That’s what makes her dreams come true.”
Each year, students at St. Thomas More Academy try to stage at least one musical, like “Cinderella,” for the whole family.
Ms. Steinhoff said it’s part of the mission of the school’s program, to help bring up a new generation of people in love with the theater.
“I think kids’ shows are so important for our group to do, just because it’s a whole different style of performing and I think in some ways., it makes an even bigger impression on them when they see the young audiences reacting,” she said.
“Adult laugh at in-jokes or they laugh because they know the person, but with kids you’re getting a really true, honest reaction. I think they always look forward to that.”
Performances for “Cinderella” at 7 p.m. today and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Schwartz Center for the Arts, 226 S. State St., Dover.
Tickets are $10.
For more information or to reserve tickets, call the box office Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 678-5152 or visit www.schwartzcenter.com.