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Conard High School’s ‘Cinderella’ Enchanting for Audiences of All Ages

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Conard High School Musical Productions will present Rodgers + Hammerstein’s ‘Cinderella’ in West Hartford for two weekends beginning March 10, 2017.

Prince Topher is immediately enchanted by Ella, but will he find her again? Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Prince Topher is immediately enchanted by Ella, but will he find her again? Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

There’s a beautiful girl trapped in a life of drudgery by a mean stepmother who dotes on her “daughters who matter,” a glass slipper, transformations of a pumpkin and some animals, and of course a handsome prince, but the production of “Cinderella” that the audience will see at West Hartford’s Conard High School includes some twists that will surprise those familiar with only the Disney version.

There’s a political twist to the Rodgers + Hammerstein show that Conard is presenting, and the depth of the characters and storyline make the show entertaining for adults, while at the same time the fairy tale elements and elaborate set will delight the youngest playgoers.

Ella, played by Conard senior Mary Looney, said that playing the lead in “Cinderella” is like a childhood fantasy come true. She said she actually cried the first time she put on the beautiful gown created by costume designer Vivianna Lamb. Looney has to go through multiple and complicated costume changes during the show, some in as few as 40 seconds.

“It’s not just Cinderella going through a transformation,” Looney said. “She finds her own voice, and is finally being heard.”

Prince Topher, played by senior Jake Yearsley, is also trying find himself and learn his place in the kingdom. At the beginning of the play, he’s clearly being manipulated by the scheming and sinister adviser Sebastian (Ray Plocharczyk).

Topher is short for Christopher, but in reality the prince has 10 names and hates hearing them all. His character is misunderstood, and as the show progresses experiences tremendous personal growth, ultimately taking the “reign” into his own hands.

Yearsley played Uncle Fester in Conard’s 2016 production of “The Addams Family.” “I really see myself in both roles even though they are polar opposites,” he said. What’s tough about playing Topher is that he’s more normal. “He’s a good guy in a bad situation,” Yearsley said.

“I’m really used to playing funny characters,” said Plocharczyk, but Sebastion is “very sinister and manipulative,” rather than flamboyant.

The show’s craziness belongs to the “fairy godmother” (aka “Crazy Marie) played by senior Zoe Schaefer who was Wednesday in last year’s “Addam’s Family.” Marie’s role is prevalent throughout the story. “She’s always messing with the townspeople, but really she literally wants to help,” Schaefer said.

The challenge to playing Marie is that she’s very motherly. “I’m not a mother, and it’s difficult because I’ve never really taken care of anyone,” she said. As the audience will learn, her mothering skills are life-changing for Ella.

The wicked stepmother is played by Lila Goldstein, a veteran of Conard musical productions who was the grandmother in the “Addams Family” last year and said she enjoys playing the older characters. “I like this role, it’s very interesting but not at all the kind of person I am.”

Goldstein spouts some great one-liners when referring to “my daughters that matter.”

Those two, Charlotte (Delina Bartolomei) and Gabrielle (Janey Lorenzo) are not the classically mean characters in the Disney version of Cinderella.

“I don’t see her as mean. She’s just blunt,” Bartolomei said of Charlotte. “She doesn’t realize what she’s saying … it’s an extreme version of myself.”

Gabrielle really isn’t mean at all, but like Ella needs to learn to escape from her mother’s grip and find her voice. She has a love interest in revolutionary student Jean-Michel (Miles Brown) who tries to inform everyone of what’s really going on in the kingdom. That relationship adds a second major storyline to the show. 

Playing a role in that sub-plot is Charlie Uthgenannt’s character of Lord Pinkerton – a “regal” character who is Royal Herald to the palace and the right hand man to Sebastian and Topher.

“It’s going to be a magical show,” said Director Corrine Kravitz.

The spectacularly-complicated set is designed by a professional but built by students, and the pit orchestra, directed by Scott Porter who also serves as co-producer, is comprised exclusively of students.

Performance dates and times are:

  • Friday, March 10 at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 11 at 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 12 at 2 p.m.
  • Friday, March 17 at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 18 at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $18 for adults and $15 for students and children. Aadvance purchase online at www.conardhighschoolmusical.com is recommended to ensure availability. If any tickets remain they will be sold at the door. There are a limited number of wheelchair accessible seats.

All performances will be held in the Conard High School auditorium, 110 Beechwood Rd., West Hartford, CT.

Any questions can be directed to Anne Coon at [email protected].

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Prince Topher on his horse. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Prince Topher on his horse. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Jean-Michel and his love interest, Gabrielle – the nicer of the step sisters. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Jean-Michel and his love interest, Gabrielle – the nicer of the step sisters. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ella sings 'In My Own Little Corner.' Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ella sings ‘In My Own Little Corner.’ Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The fox and the pumpkin will have key roles in the story. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The fox and the pumpkin will have key roles in the story. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Prince Topher and Sebastian. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Prince Topher and Sebastian. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Jean-Michel, the revolutionary student, tries to explain what's happening in the kingdom to the townspeople. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Jean-Michel, the revolutionary student, tries to explain what’s happening in the kingdom to the townspeople. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The townspeople show their excitement about the ball invitation by dancing around Lord Pinkerton. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The townspeople show their excitement about the ball invitation by dancing around Lord Pinkerton. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

From left: Charlotte, Gabrielle, and the wicked Madame receive their ball invitations. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

From left: Charlotte, Gabrielle, and the wicked Madame receive their ball invitations. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Lord Pinkerton with the townspeople. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Lord Pinkerton with the townspeople. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The wicked stepmother (center) with her 'daughters that matter' Charlotte (left) and Gabrielle. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The wicked stepmother (center) with her ‘daughters that matter’ Charlotte (left) and Gabrielle. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Crazy Marie hands Ella an invitation to the masked ball. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Crazy Marie hands Ella an invitation to the masked ball. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Marie's transformation. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Marie’s transformation. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Crazy Marie, the fairy godmother character, gives Ella instruction and encourages her. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Crazy Marie, the fairy godmother character, gives Ella instruction and encourages her. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A twirl and a transformation. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A twirl and a transformation. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Transformed! Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Transformed! Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The transformed fox and raccoon, now footmen, place the glass slippers on Ella's feet. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The transformed fox and raccoon, now footmen, place the glass slippers on Ella’s feet. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Following her transformation by Crazy Marie, Ella is whisked off to the ball in her carriage (former pumpkin) pulled by mice-turned-horses and escorted by a former fox and raccoon. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Following her transformation by Crazy Marie, Ella is whisked off to the ball in her carriage (former pumpkin) pulled by mice-turned-horses and escorted by a former fox and raccoon. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Guests at the masked ball. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Guests at the masked ball. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Prince Topher removes his mask and is revealed to the ball-goeres. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Prince Topher removes his mask and is revealed to the ball-goeres. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Topher and Ella. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Topher and Ella. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Prince Topher is immediately enchanted by Ella, but will he find her again? Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Prince Topher is immediately enchanted by Ella, but will he find her again? Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The stroke of midnight! Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The stroke of midnight! Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ella needs to leave at the stroke of midnight. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Ella needs to leave at the stroke of midnight. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The pit band is comprised entirely of students. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

The pit band is comprised entirely of students. Conard High School Musical Productions presents ‘Cinderella.’ Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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