Prince Charming, the magical glass slipper, and poor old Cinderella are making their way to the Registry Theatre next week for a new musical comedy entitled Cinderella CEO.
The Kitchener theatre will debut the adapted fairy tale for three days only as its March Break offering.
The play follows the traditional story line, but this time around, Cinderella – or Cindy – learns she doesn’t need some prince to save her.
“I thought the great thing about the story is how she’s such a kind and forgiving person and at the end even though the stepmother and stepsister have been so awful to her, she still is, depending on the version that you read, she forgives them and they’re still part of her life. I thought that was a great message. But then the thing that I didn’t like about it so much is this sense of waiting for another person to take care of you,” said playwright Amy Neufeld.
This isn’t her first time reworking a classic fairy tale, as last year they put on Betty and the Beast, a unique version of Beauty and the Beast.
It isn’t only Cinderella who’s clueless about being independent. When her mother dies, her father quickly remarries, unsure of how to care for himself and his daughter.
“So our Cinderella starts out, she’s very much used to having everything done for her. She’s very sweet, she’s very nice, but she doesn’t know how to do anything and neither does her father. She’s prepared to try to learn, but then he brings this new step mother in and so she’s convinced there’s no point in learning to do things for yourself, just let everybody else take care of you. That’s the easiest thing to do,” Neufeld said.
Of course when the father dies, Cinderella’s suddenly forced to do all these things she has no idea how to do.
Neufeld says it was important for the play to express that everybody needs to learn how to take care of themselves and not just depend on the next father figure, mother figure, husband, or wife to do those things for you.
“You never know where they’re going to be and you need to feel secure in your own ability to take care of yourself,” Neufeld said.
In this story Cinderella also learns that by reaching out for help she can learn to take care of herself. She sees a street sweeper and thinks they can teach her how to clean. She sees a neighbor adept in cooking who teaches her how to feed herself.
“She reaches out for this help when it’s needed. She’s appreciative of her friends, she builds these networks. And of course the big ball scene when she needs some help to get ready, it’s her Fairy Godmentor that arrives and he again says everybody needs a little of help sometimes, and he gives her a bit of magic to kind of give her a bit of a boost so that she can go meet the prince,” Neufeld said.
Rather than marry into his life and be a princess, she aspires to work a real job taking care of the palace. The prince ultimately offers her the CEO position.
Neufeld says the story will appeal to both girls and boys, as it’s less focused on the big fancy ball dress, and more on the skills Cindy’s gaining and the characters she meets along the way.
“It feels hard I think when your parents insist, ‘no you can do that on your own.’ It feels like you’re being abandoned almost, but it’s really to drive the point we all need to be able to do the basics to clean up after ourselves, to make sure that we have good food for ourselves and it’s nice to be able to do that for other people, but you should be able to do all those things yourself,” Neufeld said.
The cast includes Sonja Ticknor-Malton as Cindy, Kevin White as the Fairy Godmentor, messenger, street sweeper, and Mrs. Butterfield, Nolan Henshall as the father and prince, Carlotta Ipsen as the stepsister, and Anna Maste as the stepmother.
Produced by Lightning Banjo Productions, audience members can stay after the show to meet the actors and get autographs.
Audiences will recognize White as he’s been in all of the production company’s shows. Ticknor-Malton was last seen as Wilbur in their production of Charlotte’s Web. Henshall just finished a successful run of Grease with KWMP as Danny Zuko.
The musical features six original songs with lyrics written by Neufeld and music by local musician Glen Soulis.
“The music is all him. He’ll be performing that live as well. He’s got a very small part in the play, he’s the travelling musician. But he’s on stage so we’ll have all live music for it,” Neufeld said.
The goal of these shows is always for audiences to laugh and leave humming a tune. But she’s also hoping they’ll think about the female-centric stories we hear all the time in a different light.
“I think what I’d hope that people would do is look at those popular stories, those fairy tales and sort of think about what makes them endure that’s good, the kinds of lessons that we want people to learn, and what lessons we can talk about, and is that really the way we want to go with our lives,” Neufeld said.
The show is for all ages and she encourages those interested to get tickets early.
“We try to keep it really fun and we’ve got all these new songs that are going to appeal to everybody. I think the wicked stepmother and stepsister are definitely going to appeal to all children because they’re so much fun. Our actor who’s playing the Fairy Godmentor, he’s got four roles, he’s hilarious and he’s going to be changing costumes and keeping everybody on their toes. I do think that it’s a message that is really important for all kids, regardless of the fact that Cinderella happens to be a girl,” Neufeld said.
Cinderella CEO plays at the Registry Theatre from Mar. 16-18 at 10 a.m., and 1 p.m., with an additional 6:30 p.m. show on Mar. 18. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children, and $5 for EyeGo. Call 519-578-1570 or visit www.registrytheatre.com for tickets.