By STEPHANIE OTTEY
NEW CASTLE, pa.
Little girls love meeting — and being — princesses, so it’s no surprise that they flock to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” whenever it plays. The same holds true for the newest production of the show at The New Castle Playhouse. On opening weekend, the audience was so dotted with girls in tiaras that the average age of viewers is surely in the single digits.
Perhaps the young audience contributes to the feel, but this production seems to be suited for a youth theater season. The classic fairy tale appeals to all ages, but there are aspects of this specific production, directed by Paula R. Ferguson, that push the show even farther in that direction.
The set design is simple and the costumes are bold to help clearly identify people and settings for young viewers. Though adult watchers may find that the interpretation of dialogue is flat, it clearly placates the youngsters in the audience.
The youthful cast also influences the air of the production.
New Castle High School student Allyson Hood plays to her audience in the title role of Cinderella. She is met with cheers of adoration throughout the show, save for the few moments when she is smooching Prince Charming. These few moments elicited a chorus of “yuck” from the cootie-fearing crowd.
These yucks are certainly not inspired by Travis Ascione’s performance as Prince Charming. Ascione delivers the strongest vocal performance of the night, and is every bit as charming as a good Prince should be.
Stepsisters Joy and Portia, played by Taryn Brown and Elizabeth Britton respectively, are a riot when teamed with Jeanne Donovic’s wicked step-mother. Donovic’s over-the-top interpretation of the villain makes her an audience favorite.
There is one area of the simple show that remains sorely unpolished: The musical score is poorly represented. A lack of synchronicity suggests that another week of rehearsal would have been beneficial, but it’s also apparent that the orchestra isn’t loud enough. In numerous songs, the vocalists are multiple beats, if not whole measures, ahead of the band. “Boys and Girls Like You and Me” is so clearly off that the singers finish the song long before the musicians.
However, this show does boast an impressive prop collection. With a remote- control broom, cute pumpkin carriage and slipper that looks like glass (though the actors don’t treat it as such) Ferguson’s prop design is a saving grace.
Add a few magic tricks and this classic love story is perfect for kids.
“Cinderella” will run through Dec. 2 at New Castle Playhouse. Call 724-654-3437.