Scandalous ‘Cinderella’ Takes Stage

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Courtesy of Mark Shelby Perry

Company XIV’s eclectic production of “Cinderella” would make Walt Disney to blush. While in the film she is the protagonist, Cinderella is everything but the star of director and choreographer Austin McCormick’s interpretation — that is, she functions as a prop in the show, both literally as a table and stool and figuratively, to tie the various plots together.

Previously minor characters, such as the Step-Mother, step-sisters and Fairy Godmother are the ones who truly shine in this performance. Running at the Minetta Lane Theater, “Cinderella” is the ultimate vaudeville act — incorporating everything from burlesque and ballet to opera and circus with a gender-bending and scantily but ornately clad cast.

The combination of acts truly feels like a dream. The show exudes an air of antiquity, especially during every scene change when a silent movie-esque letter board is carried across the stage by performers wearing Louis XIV heels and not much else. There is an overall lack of dialogue throughout the show, with most characters relying on sensual and risque movements in combination with a pastiche of music ranging from opera and classical music to retro music infused with modern songs by Lorde, Lana Del Rey and Nicki Minaj.

The production is an incredible work of art with so many beautiful details that it is difficult to take everything in without missing any details. Perhaps most immediately visible are the actor’s costumes, comprising mostly nude-colored undergarments, all embellished in a magnificent baroque style. Over their toned and muscular bodies lie a combination of burlesque bustles, cages, panniers and rhinestoned codpieces. The collection of wigs, balloons and masks only add to the charm of the production.

The stand-out character in this show is most definitely the Step-Mother, brilliantly and superbly played by Davon Rainey. Rainey brings a perfect mix of femininity and masculinity to the character that no one knew was missing before. The Step-Mother ran the show from the very beginning and everything that happened seemed to be a direct result of her devious plan — to get the Prince for herself. Rainey’s sensual dances, vogue attitude and ruthless conquering all while wearing killer high heels made him a wonderful and titillating villain, as well as an instant favorite.

The Fairy Godmother, played by Katrina Cunningham, is another fantastic character who truly astounds. Her Marilyn Monroe look and demeanor were just the tip of the iceberg. Her dancing and singing are mesmerizing and chilling to the bone. Cunningham has a powerful voice and does an unbelievable impression of Lana Del Rey, adding hints of seductive charm to the songs to go along with the piece. Her scenes incorporating balloons, glitter and alcohol effectively render her a dreamy fairytale character.

Cinderella, played by Allison Ulrich, is redeemed as a main character in the play of her namesake only in the end when she dances with the Prince, played by Steven Trumon Gray, in mid-air on a lyra. They are spectacular as they twist in and out of the hoop at an amazing pace and with incredible grace as they perform some of the riskiest moves of the show, ending the show with a beautiful
ever after.

“Cinderella” finishes its run next week on Nov. 15 at 5:00 p.m. at the Minetta Lane Theater.

A version of this article appeared in the Nov. 9 print edition.

Link to published article.

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