According to Gail Bennett, who is portraying Cinderella in an upcoming production, playing the rags-to-riches princess is a dream come true for most girls.
“I don’t care what women tell you,” Bennett said. “All girls wanted to be Cinderella at some point.”
While not every girl will get to fall in love at a ball or leave a glass slipper at the stroke of midnight, the Las Vegas Shakespeare Company is doing the next best thing by bringing the Rodgers and Hammerstein story to life.
“It’s going to put a smile on everybody’s face,” said director Louisa Lemos. “People will be able to see a love story.”
“Cinderella” is slated to come to Henderson at 8 p.m. April 13, 14, 20 and 21 and 7 p.m. April 15 and 22 at the Henderson Pavilion, 200 S. Green Valley Parkway. Tickets are $10.
“Cinderella” is a classic fairy tale about a mistreated girl who lives with her wretched stepmother and stepsisters while struggling to make her way to a grand ball thrown by Prince Charming.
The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is similar to the classic Disney version of “Cinderella.”
“It is the same storyline, just different music,” Lemos said.
The Rodgers and Hammerstein version was made for television in 1957 and starred Julie Andrews. It was remade for television in 1997 starring singers Brandy Norwood and Whitney Houston.
Bennett said the story draws people because the character, who goes for her dreams despite her fears and obstacles, is relatable.
“It has a little bit of humanity in the story,” Bennett said. “Everybody wants to root for the underdog.”
Joey DeBenedetto, who is playing the prince, said “Cinderella” is nostalgic for people who grew up watching the story.
“Everyone knows the story,” DeBenedetto said. “It is always great to see a fresh take on it.”
Bennett said people also like to get lost in the romance of the story.
“It’s a fairy tale,” Bennett said. “It is OK to have a little schmaltz.”
Unlike the Disney version, which has the first romantic encounter at the ball, this version introduces Cinderella and the prince in the opening scene. The prince, in disguise, runs into Cinderella — quite literally — and the magic begins.
“It’s when you really get to see what their inner desires are,” Bennett said.
Even though it has been seen before, cast members plan to bring a fresh take to their roles.
“When people think of ‘Cinderella,’ they often think of the Brandy version,” Bennett said. “I’m no Brandy. But there is such a range between Julie Andrews and Brandy, so there is room for interpretation.”
When she was cast as the Fairy Godmother, Francesca Camus said friends kept asking if she was going to sing it like Houston.
“I don’t think anybody can do it like Whitney,” Camus said. “I definitely studied the way she did it. I watched the original version and YouTube to see how everybody has done it. It’s going to be different.”
Lemos said she took creative freedom with the Fairy Godmother.
“It’s more fun,” Camus said. “I get to be a little sassy. It’s not your typical Fairy Godmother.”
For DeBenedetto, the role of the prince is a dream role.
“Who doesn’t want to play a prince?” DeBenedetto said. “It doesn’t get better than that. I always have thought of myself as charming, so I make sure to bring that into the role.”
Emily Peterson said she has always secretly wanted to play Joy, the sinister stepsister.
“I am taking sheer delight in being a brat,” Peterson said. “I have a mischievous side in general, and now I have a reason to channel it.”
One of the highlights of the production for Peterson is how ethnically diverse some of the cast members are.
“It adds splashes of color,” Peterson said. “I don’t often get to do classical roles because people don’t want to think outside the box.”
Peterson added that it’s nice for audience members, especially those who desire to be in theater, to see such diversity on stage.
“It’s great for them to see they have options (in acting) and don’t have to pigeonhole themselves,” Peterson said.
From the opening to the ball, each actor has a different favorite scene.
“I like it when Cinderella is singing to her sisters about the ball,” Lemos said. “There is a moment the stepmother is realizing what is happening — Cinderella is the girl from the ball — and puts Cinderella in her place. It is really sad. My goal is to have everyone in the audience crying at that scene.”
Others are more romantic.
“I love when they meet at the ball,” DeBenedetto said. “There is so much emotion; it’s beautiful. Plus, the ball is just grandiose.”
Regardless of why people come to the production, Lemos thinks they will have a good time.
“People can expect to have fun,” Lemos said.
For more information, visit hendersonlive.com.
Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 387-5201.