Nearly 60 students will present Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” at the Liberty Center Association of the Arts this weekend.
Director Lucy Lemke Clark said it is a youth version that while condensed, still includes everything one might remember from the classic fairy tale.
“The youth all know the story of Cinderella but I think this version has brought them closer to finding the realness of the characters, making them really people,” Clark said before dress rehearsal Wednesday night. “We worked on that lots as actors and people that are guiding them with their theater skills so they are really building the character, learning how to communicate with each other on stage, and really portray their characters and create relationships and make it entertaining and make it a marvelous, magical spectacle for an audience.”
The youth version isn’t the only deviation from the original: Clark has set her version in the 1980s.
From the bright and colorful costumes to some fun substitutions to the original script’s intentions (keep an eye out for the ‘80s version of a golden carriage), the setting influenced every aspect of the show.
“We set it in a different era because we wanted to explore and we saw the costume potential,” Clark explained. “It’s set in the ‘80s but it’s exactly the same script. … There are so many versions of ‘Cinderella’, it’s like transplanting a common story into a different setting.”
Serena Sartin, who plays Cinderella’s stepmother, said the ‘80s setting makes the show “a lot edgier.” A previous production, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” was set in the ‘90s.
“The sets are different this year, there’s more moving parts,” said Savannah Simon, who plays a dessert chef. “And we’re more in the house.”
“We get more involved in the audience, it’s cool,” Sartin added.
The show includes crew and cast members ages 8 to 17. Some have performed in Liberty Center productions numerous time while others are making their debut this summer.
Local theater-goers might recognize Cora Sadler, who plays Cinderella, from her recent performance as Liesel in Smith-Cotton’s “The Sound of Music.” The 17-year-old will be a senior this fall.
“She is just a joy to work with,” Clark said. “She brings lightness and beauty to everything she does.”
The prince is portrayed by 17-year-old Derrick Gilger who will also be a senior this fall. Clark said he “always gives his best.”
Cinderella’s godmother is portrayed by 16-year-old Arrianna Ciccone.
“She is somebody that I love to watch grow too,” Clark said. “She is always where we need her to be, doing what we need her to do, ready to make magic on stage.”
She gave out compliments for every character she mentioned, including the “amazing” herald, Allison Ballenger, and the “hilarious” stepsisters, Portia Kendall Lane and Joy Olivia Poteet, who are “two very different individuals who play up being ornery and fun.”
“They’ve put their heart and soul into it and we have so many people involved and they each know exactly what character they’re playing, from Cinderella and the prince all the way down to the youngest townsperson,” Clark said.
While the actors receive their theatre education, the crew members are getting their own hands-on experiences, whether it’s building the set — which is completely built by the cast, crew and parent volunteers — opening the curtain, operating the soundboard or using the spotlights.
Arden Schupp plays the queen and is also a student director for the second time. She said she did the blocking for one scene, meaning she helped the actors figure out where to stand and move, took notes during rehearsals, and gave feedback to Clark and the cast.
Schupp, Simon and Sartin all said they love doing theatre and have all performed at Liberty Center before.
“They always pick good characters. They challenge you. They pick something you might not have thought you’d be good at,” Sartin said of why she enjoys theatre.
“For me, every time I step on stage it’s a new, magic show. It’s all over again and it’s the same show and the same stage, but it feels different,” Simon offered.
“I think theatre makes you the person you are,” Schupp said. “You learn this character and pick something from that character and you pick up something from another character and it makes you a whole person.
“... Even within the short span of the show, you start with this character you know nothing about and then by the end of it you know everything about it,” she added. “And it’s like your best friend.”
“Cinderella” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Liberty Center, 111 W. Fifth St. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students. For more information, visit libertycentersedalia.com or call 660-827-3228.