A Musical Twist on Classic Cinderella

Even Hugh Ritchie found himself swept up in the fairy tale musical he was starring in.

Ritchie played Prince Charming in Cinderella, an annual holiday musical performed by third and fourth-year performance acting and dance students at Ryerson.

The entire cast and crew had been working on the musical for the past six weeks but Richie still found himself caught up in the magical story when all the production elements, such as the music, costumes and sets, finally came together during the first dress rehearsal.

“When Megan [Webster], who plays Cinderella, walked onstage for the first time in her ball gown, I felt myself falling in love with her in that moment,” Ritchie said. “She looked so beautiful, and when you’re performing, you can’t help but lose yourself in the magic. It’s a fairy tale story.”

Cinderella is a centuries-old fairy tale that most of us would have grown up with. Many elements of the story that audience members would know well are still there, but this version, which is based on a book by Kate Hawley, has a few twists that set it apart from the storybook or Disney versions.

Peggy Shannon, the director of Cinderella, said this production “draws on the traditions of British Pantomime, vaudeville, and musical comedy.” She says that in England, these British Pantomime performances are both for children and adults – a fairy tale story with lots of magic and music for the children, and some mature, witty jokes in the dialogue for the adults.

Hayden Finkelshtain, who plays Cinderella’s father, said the style presented a few challenges.

“The school focuses on a lot of classical-type training. So we do Shakespeare, we do Greek tragedy, straight theatre, we do a bunch of stuff like that,” Finkelshtain said. “And now we’re being thrown into a big musical pantomime so it’s kind of different than what we’re used to doing.”

Allister MacDonald, Kevin Forster and Dylan Evans steal the show every time their arrival onstage is introduced by a signature drum beat. The three actors play Cinderella’s wicked stepmother and stepsisters. Traditionally you’re supposed to hate them for how cruel and scheming they are to the heroine and other characters, but their unique and over the top roles in this production have made them absolutely hilarious and endearing. You can’t help but feel giddy and excited when you hear the drums or the villainous music that signals they’ll be in the scene soon.

As Ritchie said, you’d have to be trying very hard not to get caught up in the enchantment. Cinderella brings a lot of laughter and magic to audience members of all ages, making you wish the fairy tale lasted longer than two short hours.

[P]hotographer: Eunice Kim