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Ohio Shakespeare's Festival ‘Cinderella’ is musical theater for children of all ages

Cinderella...just the name evokes thoughts of rags to riches stories that has inspired countless children and adults through the ages. This beloved folktale has been told with thousands of different variations throughout the world. The story dates all the way back to 7 BC Greece and in nearly every civilization and country in the world there is some version. The most popular have been told in such far off places as Persia, Malta, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Middle East, France, Italy, England and Germany. In the German version it is the Grimm brothers who came up with the name “Aschenputtel” or “The Little Ash Girl” which was translated to “Cinderella” in the English rendering.

In the musical production currently being staged by Ohio Shakespeare Festival on the Henry C. Bishop Stage at Greystone Hall in Akron, Ohio the traditional Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein show is directed by Tess Burgler with Music Direction by John Ebner and Choreography by Jailyn Harris. The show is a repeat by OSF from their highly successful run in 2021.

Cinderella (Maya Nicholson), so named because one of her jobs is to clean out the fireplaces, is an orphan living with her stepmother and two step sisters. Cinderella has been reduced to nothing more than a lowly servant girl being forced to do all the house work while her step mother and step siblings wallow in luxury while the poor girl is forced to wear rags.

In spite of this challenge, Cinderella has a heart of gold, especially when it comes to the various creatures in and around the house. She is kind to the cat, bird and mice that visit her on a regular basis. It is her dream of a better life that keeps her going.

One day she is bumped into at the market by Prince Christopher (Joe Pine), who is out slumming. They have a moment but she quickly gathers her dropped packages and leaves. The Prince is quite smitten by this quick exchange. At that time the Royal Crier (Samus Haddad) announces that the Royal Family, King Maximillian (Tom Barnes) and Queen Constantina (Stephanie Cargill) will be hosting a ball in order to introduce their son, the Prince, to a his prospective bride out of all the eligible women in the kingdom, much to the prince’s dismay.

Cinderella’s Step Mother (Lara Mielcarek) and Step Sisters, Joy (Hannah Storch) and Grace (Natalie Steen) are all a dither as they plan how they will snag the Prince. Cinderella finds her mother’s formal gown and dreams herself of going to the ball. The Step Mother finds out about Cinderella’s plans and begins tearing off parts of the dress, ruining it. The three women then laughingly leave in their carriage.

In despair, Cinderella sits and cries only to have her Fairy Godmother appear. Since Cinderella has such a kind heart the Fairy Godmother magically changes a pumpkin into a fine coach, the mice as horses, the cat as driver and the bird as coachman. She further goes on to repair the damage on the dress making it even more luxurious and illuminated. Her one word of warning is when the clock strikes twelve all will change back to their original forms.

At the ball, the Prince is suffering through having to dance with all the women in the kingdom. Cinderella arrives and he devotes the rest of the evening only to being with her. They dance then escape the ball to the garden where they learn of each other’s lives and how similar they are. The clock begins to peal the midnight hour and Cinderella escapes just in time.

This is a delightful production of this classic story. The costuming by Kelsey Tomlinson is lavish. Buddy Taylor’s lighting design is bright and airy. The choreography by lead dancer Jailyn Sherell Harris is period authentic and dreamy. The puppets by Marty La Conte are a delight. The orchestra made up of music director and keyboardist John Ebner, drummer Mick Shaull and Guitarists John Chambers and George E. Dean do wonders with the seventeen various musical numbers, four reprises and one prologue. The show is aptly directed by Tess Burgler with Jenni DeLuca as Stage Manager.

As for the cast, they are absolutely superb. Special note goes to Joe Pine who along with his acting and dancing skills is a fine singer to boot. A true triple threat. Maya Nicholson as Cinderella is delightful and easy to fall in love with. Madelyn Hayes as the Fairy Godmother is wonderfully funny. She is bold as brass and full of laughs. Last but not least, Lara Mielcarek as the step mother and Natalie Steen and Hannah Storch as the Step Sisters are an absolute hoot.

The ensemble is made up of: Erica Anderson, Brianna DeRosa Brown, Nadia Brown, Jackie Di Frangia, Gracelyn Dowd, T.J. Hayes, Jessica Lauren, Lysander Millo, David Monter, John Peters, Sarah Pine, Jason Reppart, Kim Simbeck, Wittman Sullivan and Ryan Zarecki. All of them doing a fine job.

This is more than a show. It is a wonderful gift that parents can share with their children and lovers can share with their significant others. It is lavish in both sight and sound. This year, why not give the gift of live theater to your family. “It’s Possible!”

The Rodgers and Hammerstein’s production of Cinderella by Ohio Shakespeare Festival is on stage on the Henry C. Bishop stage in Greystone Hall, 103 S. High Street, Akron, Ohio through December 17, 2022. For more information and tickets go to or call (330) 574-2537.


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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

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