Nov 30

Alberta Theatre Projects explores ‘Cinderella’ through audience participation

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments

A pantomime is a play usually for children based on a classic fairy tale. This is what inspired Alberta Theatre Projects’ holiday show Slipper - A distinctly Calgarian Cinderella Story, a new creation by Rebecca Northan in collaboration with Christian Goutsis and Bruce Horak. The play is filled with Calgarian references, slapstick comedy and plenty of singing.

The play tells the story of Cindy (Ellie Heath) – otherwise known as Cinderella – who lives with her stepsister Tuscany (Anna Cummer) and Somerset (Chantelle Han), as well as her stepmother Judith (Sara-Jeanne Hosie). All members of the household are unemployed except for Cindy, and she just lost her job because Edward Prince (Joel Schaefer) – a time traveler from the early 1900s who came to Calgary as Cinderella’s Prince Charming –didn’t expect the world he fell into. He accidentally gets Cindy fired from her job and this puts the couple on the wrong (glass-slippered) foot. What follows is a Calgarian spin on the Cinderella story, complete with Edward’s Uncle George (Kevin Kruchkywich) as godmother.

Slipper has fun elements, especially the stepsisters and Uncle George in various dresses as godmother. The narrative of the production plays with gender lines and features singing – highlighted by a talent show hosted by Edward Prince – instead of a royal ball. Cindy winds up performing a hip hop number that is actually quite average in rhyme and rhythm, while her stepsisters perform a duet that devolves into them throwing cupcakes at each other. Conversely, stepmother Judith’s (Hosie’s) solo at the talent show is quite powerful.

Narda McCarroll’s set design adjusts to accommodate the changing scenes, while Jennifer Darbellay’s costume design is funky – especially for the stepsisters – and innovative for Cinderella, whose glass slippers are interpreted with humour.

The play includes audience participation, which allows the audience to feel like they are part of the story and able to influence the storyline. Slipper is a contemporary spin on a classic story and Heath is quite charming as Cinderella, but the play is a bit too juvenile overall – it appeals to children but doesn’t give too much to adults. It’s a bit disappointing because Northan’s Legend Has It was a magical show that had a broad appeal for all ages, while Slipper has sparks of that charm but needs some finessing.

Alberta Theatre Projects’ Slipper - A distinctly Calgarian Cinderella Story, runs until December 31st. More information is available online.

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