Cast members weigh in on the behind the scenes of the annual musical, Cinderella.

By Molly Mitchell, ’20

Cinderella opens in the auditorium on Thursday Feb. 20. Under the direction of Jackie Comisar, who directed Anything Goes in 2018 and Mamma Mia! last winter, Cinderella offers a twist on the classic fairytale. The musical was written by Oscar Hammerstein with music by Richard Rodgers to adapt the original Cinderella film into a musical with a unique storyline. 

Auditions were held for character positions before Thanksgiving. With both small group and individual auditions, students prepared a monologue, musical side and dance number. 

Junior Natalie Harrison, who plays Ella, was in the chorus for her past two years in the musical. With experience in these and the Little Theatre’s The Laramie Project this fall, Harrison was excited for the audition process to begin.

“I was so excited to do the musical again because I had done it for the past two years,” Harrison said. “But I was very nervous. I get really bad performance anxiety.”

The cast list was posted on the Upper Arlington Vocal Music website and students found out which character they would develop into over the following three months. 

For Harrison, getting cast as the lead female came as a complete surprise. 

“I was shocked. I was so surprised,” she said. “I didn’t even audition for Cinderella. I literally put ‘chorus’ on my cast card and one of the step sisters just for fun.”

The cast started rehearsals after school on Dec. 2. Student directors Phoebe Pappas and Lydia Silver, who assist Comisar in behind-the-scenes decision making, took charge of character development sheets. Each cast member outlined the backstory for their character—even if their backstory may seem insignificant to the audience. 

“No character development sheet was more important than the next. Natalie made hers 16 pages and it was one of the most touching things I have ever read, but also [there are] chorus members and people who stand on the balcony that have a whole backstory that they made for themselves,” Pappas said. “And I think that is so important. “

With 62 cast members, every group dance number requires the full attention of the cast. 

“We are all learning that every part of the show, every movement whether you’re picking up a book with your right or left hand, is so vital to how they want it executed,” Pappas said. “Little things that you would never think takes ten minutes to execute. It’s bizarre.”

Silver agreed that the performance will be beautiful, because every movement and line has been thought out by the directing staff. 

“Every detail is thought out. And when you get to these giant group numbers, that is multiplied by 100,” she said.

Aspects many remember from the animated Disney movie are the magical transitions between reality and fantasy. The onstage set features similar transition features that will excite the audience. 

“The theatrical tricks in this show are so cool,” Silver said. “We are going to have transformations on stage in the blink of an eye.”

Harrison elaborates on the surprising excitement the show should evoke to its audience.

“Some people might think Cinderella is going to be boring, because it’s a Disney princess, cliche, romantic story. But specifically, this version of Cinderella has so much more substance to it that it is really for everyone,” Harrison said.

Tickets can be purchased on the UAVM website (uavocalmusic.org) or at the door. Pappas encourages her peers to attend one of the four performances. 

“It is funny. It is goofy. It’s elegant and graceful and magical,” Pappas said. “The variety of substance in the scenes is all so different but morphs into one big beautiful Cinderella show that everyone should come see.”