Ballet Quad Cities will present “Cinderella” at the Adler Theatre in Davenport Saturday, April 30 and sunday, May 1st, sponsored by Genesis Endocrinology and Swiss Valley Farms. Based on the work of the legendary composer Prokofiev, “Cinderella” is a two act production that recalls the beauty and splendor of the classic fairy tale.
The Ballet Quad Cities production of “Cinderella” caused feelings of nostalgia for the most well remembered version of the classic fairy tale, Walt Disney’s 1950 animated “Cinderella.”
Once upon a time in a land far away
Is there a better way to begin a fairy tale story? The phrase “Once upon a time” is iconic and when applied it implies a magical journey, a story of love, of life and friendship. In “Cinderella” the phrase leads us to the story of a girl who has lost both of her beloved parents and now is forced to work as maid to a cruel old shrew and her nasty daughters.
Cinderella was once destined to run this household but when her mother passed away when Cinderella was very young, her father felt she needed a mother figure and married Lady Tremaine who brought with her two daughters from a previous marriage of her own, Drizzilla and Anastasia. (Isn’t Drizzilla the perfect name for a nasty step-sister?)
When Cinderella’s father died he left Cinderella in the care of Lady Tremaine who immediately turned Cinderella from heiress to skullery maid serving her over-served daughters. Ever gracious, Cinderella accepted the demotion and went about her work with utmost care finding moments of solace with her animal friends, including bluebirds, mice, a horse and a dog.
My Kingdom for a grandchild
On the other side of the Kingdom the King is at his wits end; his son the Prince simply won’t settle down. While the King longs for grandchildren in the palace his son continues to move further and further away from his royal responsibilities. So, with the aid of the Grand Duke, the King plots to speed the process along. The palace will host a ball and invite all of the single maidens in the kingdom.
When word arrives that a ball is to be held that very night Cinderella is hopeful that she can attend. Sadly, she is told that first she must tend to the needs of her step-sisters, then to her chores and then to further chores set aside by Lady Tremaine. Should she complete them all, then she can go to the ball.
This proclamation, while despairing for Cinderella, leads to one of the most magical and memorable moments in Disney history as Cinderella’s animal friends, led by the mice Jaq and Gus Gus, conspire to tend Cinderella’s dress. This is actually two fantastic sequences in one, first as Jaq and Gus do battle with the loathesome cat, Lucifer, and the second as the mice and birds sing and create a beautiful ball gown for Cinderella.
Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo
Naturally, the sisters will ruin this as well but there is plenty more fairy tale Disney magic to come in the former of a Fairy Godmother, a pumpkin carriage and a magical glass slipper. The song “Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo” is one of the great children’s songs of all time with wonderful nonsense lyrics that creates magic in the imagination of any child, or many an adult for that matter. Did you know that a version of “Bibbidy Bobbidy Boo” sung by Perry Como and the Fontaine Sisters was a hit less than a year before Cinderella was released?
While “Cinderella” is not as magical as “Snow White” or as complexly animated as “Dumbo,” the story has become more iconic and well remembered than either. The concept of the underdog and neglected person or team rising to the occasion and winning the day has become the template for hundreds of films and stories that followed. “Cinderella” is now synonymous with the underdog and emblematic of overcoming great odds.
Cinderella and ESPN
“Cinderella” stories are not merely literary or filmic; indeed the part of the culture that gets the most use out of the phrase “Cinderella Story” these days is the world of sports where it’s been attached to basketball, football and baseball teams for decades. Sports and Cinderella are so entwined in fact that a recent “Cinderella” DVD Edition featured an ESPN documentary on sports ‘Cindellas’ as a special feature. (It should be noted that Disney owns ESPN.)
The animation of “Cinderella” was remarkable and innovative in 1950 making use actors to stand in as the animators created the characters. Thus while Ilene Woods provided the voice of Cinderella, actress Helene Stanley was the model on which the character is based. Stanley would go on to be the model for Sleeping Beauty as well as Anita Radcliff in 101 Dalmations.
Mike Douglas as Prince Charming
The music of “Cinderella” marked the first time that Walt Disney employed the legendary songwriters of Tin Pan Alley in New York City whose alumni include Cole Porter, Fats Waller, Jerome Kern and George and Ira Gershwin. The music of Tin Pan Alley became a staple of Disney features throughout the fifties. An interesting musical footnote, the voice of the Prince in the song “So this is Love” is that of legendary talk show host Mike Douglas.
The fairy tale “Cinderella” dates back centuries and while many peg this Disney version to a reworking of the Grimm Brothers fairy tale, as “Snow White” was taken from the Grimm’s tale, “Cinderella” was actually based on a much nicer and family friendly version of the tale crafted by Charles Perrault. It still took five other writers and Walt Disney himself to get the story just the way Disney wanted it. DVD editions of “Cinderella” feature a number of cut scenes, many ordered out of the picture by Disney himself.
The Ballet Quad Cities production of “Cinderella” on Sunday, May 1st will be preceded by a brunch with Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother at the Blackhawk Hotel in Davenport. Brunch begins at 11:30 and ends at 1:30 just in time for the 2 Pm show at the Adler Theatre. The cost is $19.95 for adults and $12.95 for children.