The tale of Cinderella is all about women being cruel to women and Prince Charming saving the day.
The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic tale will be performed by the Mid-Columbia Musical Theatre when Cinderella opens March 23 in the auditorium at Richland High School.
The story has a rich history and is told in many cultures, including ancient Egyptian and Greek societies, as well as Asia and Europe.
"Until I read this script, I never understood that her name was simply Ella," Producer Deborah Anderson said. "The addition of Cinder was the derogatory slur her step-sisters gave her as a nickname because she did the mundane household chores."
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Leading the cast is Hazel Kwak as Cinderella and Eric Eberle as her Prince Charming. Ella's magical godmother is played by Katrina Carlson, with Cheryl Cannon as the nasty stepmother and Alyssa Gossard and Terin Pratt as the obnoxious stepsisters.
But don't expect this Cinderella production to be a carbon copy of Disney's version.
"This production is Rodgers and Hammerstein's version, so it's played somewhat differently," Kwak said.
Kwak is a brunette of Spanish and French descent, not the well-known blonde from the Disney movie. But the show will have her getting all dolled up for the ball as well as all the other accouterments listed in the children's story.
In the MCMT show, Cinderella has a wonderful imagination that helps her escape sad times, like telling imaginative and detailed stories about going to a fancy ball.
"Telling stories, that's what Cinderella and I have in common, I think," Kwak said. "I really do think I fit the role just perfectly. My biggest challenge (however) has been to relax in rehearsals."
The fairy godmother will be known as just Godmother in this production because that's how the musical version of the story was originally written.
"I love playing the Godmother because I am a mother," Carlson said. "Getting to portray her is therapeutic because I get to make my goddaughter's dreams come true. And what mother doesn't want to do that?"
The production in general has been plagued with challenges since rehearsals began a few months ago, but nothing the 63-year-old theater group, formerly called Richland Light Opera, couldn't handle.
"This is my first time directing for MCMT," Lori Ganders said. "I'm used to being the only director, so it's been interesting and fun being part of a directing team."
The toughest part has been the logistics of setting a rehearsal schedule for 39 cast members, four directors (drama/vocal/orchestra/choreography), two accompanists, an orchestra and a producer, she added.
"Being a volunteer organization means everyone has their (day) job and family," Ganders said. "We tried very hard to accommodate everyone as best we could."
Patrick Faulk, vocal director, said the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical story was written specifically for the TV movie.
"I could characterize Cinderella as a show from which you might not be able to name any songs off the top of your head, but as soon as the music starts, you'll say, 'Oh yeah, I know that one,' " he said. "The music is really embedded deep in our culture with songs like In My Own Little Corner, Impossible, Ten Minutes Ago I Met You and When You're Driving Through the Moonlight."
There will be a 23-piece orchestra, led by Larry Bunch, leading the cast. Some of those actors and musicians never have been on stage before.
"About one-fourth of the cast and one-third of the orchestra are first-timers," Faulk added. "I think that demonstrates the vitality and appeal of live, community-based theater and speaks well for its future in the Tri-Cities."
The production also created a pumpkin carriage suitable for Cinderella's trip to the ball.
"The interest in building our own carriage came mostly from being unable to find anything to borrow or rent that would do the job," said production crew member Eric Richman. "We needed something small and functional to work on stage and still have that magical look to it. I think we succeeded."
As for Prince Charming, Eberle plays down his naturally charming side, stating, "I was at least charming enough to land this role."
He adds that his costar, however, makes the perfect Cinderella.
"Hazel is so sweet and hopeful as Cinderella, it's no wonder the Prince falls in love with her," he said. "Whenever you're cast in a romantic role, you hope your partner will be a pro and have a sense of humor. Hazel is all that and more."
But the real magic of this Cinderella tale is the moral of the story about never giving up on your dreams, Anderson said.
"Cinderella has every reason to be angry and sad," she said. "Her mother dies, her father remarries a woman who only is concerned with her own daughters, and she has little chance to succeed in life. But instead of becoming bitter, she wins the admiration of a prince by her gentle, sweet nature."
Like any good fairy tale, Cinderella is recommended for the entire family. Curtain time is 7 p.m. March 23-24 and 31, with 2 p.m. matinees March 24, 31 and April 1.
Special ticket prices for the March 24 and 31 family matinees are $10 for all seats. Regular prices are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $10 for students. Tickets are at www.rloc.tix.com or call 509-591-2584. Tickets also available at the door.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org