‘Cinderella’ at The Puppet Co.

The Puppet Co. presents Cinderella, arguably the world’s most beloved fairy tale, with over thirteen hundred different versions of this story spread over countries and cultures. One thing about The Puppet Company that I have always loved is their affinity for the older, lesser-known versions of our childhood favorites, and such is the case with this version, set in the opulence of 17th century France.

Photo courtesy of The Puppet Co.

Photo courtesy of The Puppet Co.

Performers Christopher Piper, Emily Marsh, and Joshua Aaron Rosenblum use beautifully detailed rod puppets (by Christopher Piper, who also provided the script!) to tell the story of a young maiden and her prince. Director Allan Stevens is also the Set Designer for this production, where elegant blue drapery is lifted to reveal painted backgrounds such as rolling hills, a cottage kitchen, and a plentiful pumpkin patch.

As I always find when I visit The Puppet Co., the puppets are real pieces of art. I especially loved the when they are dressed up with elaborate dresses for the masquerade ball (common in 17th century Paris, and a delightful scene in this production). Though, as beautiful as the dresses are, they do not soften the mean, pinched faces of Cinderella’s stepmother or her stepsisters, Mimi and Fifi, who order Cinderella around amidst fits of shallow, ridiculous hysteria.

The sisters are used for comedy in this production, screeching at each other and fumbling about as they hurry along in a harried state, squabbling over ribbons and other frivolities. Cinderella, on the other hand, is of course sweet and virtuous, tending to a lost wanderer who seeks refuge in their home before her snobbish stepsisters throw him out. Impressed with her kindness, he asks Cinderella to save a dance for him at the ball, and she gladly accepts. It may turn out, however, that he is not who he seems to be.

When Cinderella’s cruel stepmother ruins her only gown, her dreams of dancing with the kind stranger are dashed. In swirling mounds of feathery mist, her godmother appears. This puppet is not at all what one would imagine when thinking of a fairy godmother…she is bald, and has a somewhat ethereal quality about her, draped in flowy green robes and with hands that resemble tree branches. This is another aspect of the show that I found very interesting and unique. With more mist and a few encouraging words, a pumpkin is turned into a grand carriage, rats into glittery white horses, and Cinderella’s rags, a luxurious ball gown. Cinderella’s playful and funny cat (aptly named, “Prince Charming,” and a hit amongst the young audience) becomes her coachman, and they take off for the ball, where her masked stranger awaits. Of course, she has until midnight until these gifts wear off…

This production of Cinderella will give your children (and yourself!) a different angle of the classic, both in the sense that it’s told through puppetry as well as the aged elegance of the time and setting. Treat your family to a new twist on an old favorite…you’ll enjoy it!

Running Time: 45 minutes, without an intermission.

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Cinderella plays through June 21, 2015 at The Puppet Co.—7300 MacArthur Boulevard, in Glen Echo, MD. For tickets, call (301) 634-5380, or order them online.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif

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