The final production of the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse’s ninth season is Cinderella: The Slipper and the Rose. It is playing through August 27, 2017, on Thursday through Saturday evenings, with matinees on Saturday and Sunday.
When writing a review of a play or musical, it can sometimes be challenging to describe the plot so as to make it just intriguing enough, without giving away too much. That challenge doesn’t really exist with Cinderella – everyone knows how the story goes!
In 1976, British screenwriter and director Bryan Forbes came up with a new take on the Cinderella story. The country Cinderella and her wicked stepmother and stepsisters live in is called Euphrania, and in order to ensure the safety of the country its King and Queen must have their son Edward marry the princess of an adjacent kingdom. The nobility are not permitted to marry out of love, it is their duty to protect their country and their people by creating bonds of this nature between countries.
Young Edward, on the other hand, rebels at this tradition, and when his father the King gives a ball to which all the eligible young princesses from surrounding lands are invited – for it is considered bad form for one country to go to war with another when that country’s nobility are actually guests in the other land!
Eligible young women of a certain status are also invited from Euphrania, which is why Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters are present at the ball. And thanks to Cinderella’s fairy godmother, Cinderella is there as well. Cinderella and Edward dance, they fall in love, they intend to marry…but there’s a new twist to this old tale which plunges Cinderella and Edward’s happiness in doubt.
The movie (which starred Richard Chamberlain and Gemma Craven) was adapted into a stage musical by Phillip Burley in 1984, with songs by the famous Richard and Robert Sherman. It is this timeless musical that the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse is presenting – staged and directed by Donald Berlin, with choreography of the many dances by Stephen Bertles.
Sarah Grover is appealing as Cinderella, sorrowing at the beginning of the play for the loss of her father who has just died, and much put upon by her stepmother and stepsisters who lose not a second in letting go of the servants and turning Cinderella into the maid-of-all work. Grover really gets a chance to shine in Act Two, with “Tell Him Anything but not That I Love Him,” a powerful ballad which shows her honor and willingness to sacrifice her happiness for the greater good.
Matt Lafontaine’s Prince Edward is charming, if a little rebellious towards his parents – played by Tom Mullin and Samantha Jo Staggs, who intersperse a little light-hearted comedy (the King celebrating his badminton victory over his wife although he only wins because she quits) with the serious business of requiring his son and heir to marry well, to save the kingdom.
Other standout roles were David Wygant as the Chamberlain and Scotty Shaffer as the King’s nephew Montague – he of the very annoying, and very frequent, laugh. (Don’t worry, it grows on you.)
Then there’s the Fairy Godmother, Annie Dwyer, who when she is on stage, owns not only the stage but the audience as well. The Fairy Godmother – and her extremely well-trained tiny dog Magic, set the story in motion and guide it to its conclusion. The happy ending is a “deux-ex-fairy godmother” but satisfying for all that!
And of course, the Sherman Brothers songs deserve a bit of a mention: “Once I Was Loved,” “What Has Love Got to do With Getting Married,” “What a Comforting Thing to Know,” “Protocoligorically Correct,” “Suddenly it Happens,” “Secret Kingdom,” “He/She Danced With Me,” “Position and Positioning,” “Tell Him Anything But Not That I Love Him,” and “I Can’t Forget the Melody.”
The Candlelight Dinner Playhouse Experience
You enter the dining room and are taken to your seats by actors from the production itself. This was not immediately apparent on this occasion as they were all dressed in black, but during intermission there was no time for costume changes so powdered footmen brought out ice cream and the Fairy Godmother herself served coffee.
The menu for lunch and dinner is the same, and as usual the entrees were themed around the production.
The program encourages you to “Join us for a journey to the far-off, fairy-tale land Euphrania. Please enjoy our selections based on the late Medievel to early Renaissance time period, including exotic spices introduced through the spice trade, with a modern, magical twist.”
Entrees included Steak and Ale Pie (Beef tenderloin pieces with 1554 Black Lager, mushrooms, onions, carrots, bacon, and thyme. Topped with a biscuit and served with green beans and yellow rice.”
I had the Stuffed Chicken Breast – Chicken breast stuffed with mushrooms, Swiss and American cheeses, and carmelized onions. With an anise white wine butter sauce, green beans and yellow rice.
There was a lot of green beans and yellow rice on offer, which looks a bit over-yellow paired with tilapia drizzled in preserved lemon garlic butter, but according to my companion who likes fish, it was delicious.
Appetizers such as Spanakopita tartlets or a Smoked Salmon platter, are available for an extra charge, as are desserts such as Rum Raisin Bread Pudding, Mini Cherry Pie, Rose Marzipan Trifle, Ice Cream Alchemy (premium ice cream provided by a company in Boulder) and Flourless Chocolate Cake – absolutely delicious.
The entrée came with your choice of salad or soup of the day – creamy celery with a broth that was just creamy enough and not too heavy.
Adult beverages are available and the cocktails were also themed to the production, with such names as Cinderella’s Rosy Slipper (described thusly: Waiting for him to finally make up his mind can really exhaust a princess. Fortunately we have the perfect way to pass the time! Sip on this amazing cocktail made with Woody Creek Gin, Pama, lemon juice, simple syrup, sparkling white wine, and a hint of rose water) or Stepmother’s Wicked Sangaree (What does a stepmother drink while she is plotting? The answer is this little gem. Brandy, Grand Marnier, simply syrup, sparkling white wine and port come together to make an elixir that is wickedly delicious.)
Others on offer were The Prince’s Sidewalker, The Queen’s Royal Raspberry Tea, and Fairy Godmother’s Floral Collins.
Memories for the Kids
Also on sale for this production were magic wands for the kids – or adults too, obviously!
In addition, at the end of the performance, adults could bring their children up on stage for a photograph with the Fairy Godmother and Magic. This was free – adults were to use their own smartphones for the purpose.
Over all, a magic piece of entertainment for young and old.
If you go
The Candlelight Dinner Playhouse is located just off I-25, about 2 miles east of the city of Johnstown. Regardless if you are coming from north or south, take exit 254. You will turn right on the frontage road, and turn on Marketplace Drive.
The sign for the Candelight Dinner Playhouse is rather small and non-descript. Use as your landmark the gigantic Lazydays RV sign!
See more theatre reviews for productions by both amateur and professional theatre groups here: Wyoming in Motion Theatre Reviews Index.