review: theatre under the stars presents cinderella

The amazing peeps at Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) are back at it again with a couple more great lineups this summer: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella and 42nd Street. We had the opportunity to check out the opening night of Cinderella and were definitely swept up into the magic of it all.

Image by Lindsay Elliott Photography. Mallory James and Tré Cotten

This year’s production is based on the new book by Douglas Carter Beane, which is a more modern and fresh look at the classic fairytale. In addition to the more contemporary adaptation, TUTS takes it up a couple of extra notches with their character portrayals, costumes and music.

Ella (played by Mallory James) reflected a more empowered, independent woman (hello, girl power!) and Prince Topher (played by Tré Cotten) added somewhat of a more hip style to the character. The costumes seemed to be pulled from a variety of cultures, including African-inspired wear, traditional Filipino formal wear, 1950’s Americana and of course, the time-honoured princess-wear. And while some may find these additions a bit odd, we found it timely, fresh and appreciated that TUTS was willing to take those risks!

We personally enjoyed watching the not-so-evil stepsister Gabrielle (played by Vanessa Merenda) transform into a strong woman and eventually stand up for herself and especially got a kick out of Lord Pinkleton’s onstage bravado (played by Caleb Lagayan).

The stage design was simple (yet effective), with a giant clock as the main focal point. Our daughter enjoyed seeing the “people-powered” props, including the horse and carriage made up of people, seeing the mice (played by the super-adorable Jenna Lamb and Aunjali Panju) turn into the horses and also seeing all the costume transformations happen on-stage in front of her eyes!

We weren’t completely sure how our 5 year old daughter and 23 month old son would enjoy Theatre Under the Stars, but from the minute the spotlight came on, they were hooked and hung onto every word and song! While our daughter is more of a Beauty and the Beast fan, she said she would watch this version of Cinderella all over again (complete with the hot chocolate and popcorn)!

Like all TUTS performances, they are family-friendly events; here are some tips and tricks to ensure that your whole family enjoys this special evening:

  • Cinderella is approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes long (including intermission) – the show starts at about 8 pm, so if you decide to bring the kidlets, remember that they will be missing their bedtimes; if they still nap, try to get them to take a nap later in the day so that they can stay awake for the whole show!
  • The mosquitos come out once the sun comes down, so avoid getting eaten alive by bringing some bug spray!
  • It gets pretty chilly at night, so wear warmer clothes (pants and long sleeves) and bring a blanket; Buy a cup of tea or hot chocolate from the concession and you’ll be ready for a toasty show!
  • Doors open an hour before the show (7 pm); show up when the doors open to ensure you have enough time to go to the bathroom, line up for food and refreshments and get into the fairytale spirit!
  • While we didn’t bring our own snacks, you can bring your own food (just remember to please recycle/dispose of them properly to ensure the park stays clean)!
  • If you are thinking of purchasing food and drink, they only accept cash; there are ATM’s on-site, but to save time, make sure to have some bills with you in advance.
  • There are portapotties on-site, but are closed while the play is in production so make sure to go before it starts or else you’ll have to use the bathrooms outside the venue.
  • It will be dark when the play is finished; while the park is still well-lit around Malkin Bowl, it might be helpful to bring a mini flashlight in case your kiddo is extra sensitive.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella is playing at Malkin Bowl until August 18. Click here for showtime and ticket information.

Theatre Under the Stars
Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park

By: Marjolyn “MJ” Dimapilis

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