Ensemble Theatre’s holiday offering is a like a big, creamy wedge of cheese. But the delicious kind; like a smooth mild cheddar. Not sharp. No holes, like in Swiss cheese. No, it’s just the cheesiest delight you could imagine. Despite having no edge, absolutely no snark, and a fairly obvious storyline CINDERELLA AFTER EVER AFTER is a delightful night of theatre for families and those looking to escape for a couple of hours.
While the music by David Kisor and Fitz Patton has some hum-able moments and the script by Joe McDonough has some funny lines and characters, it’s the performers who bring this production to life. There’s no weak link in this year’s cast, an improvement from last year’s show on which this sequel is based. There’s more energy on stage. It really is a huge ball of fun.
Brooke Steele (“Cinderella”) and Patrick Phillips (“Prince Frederick”) are engaged and are having a ball. Her stepmother (Deb Girdler) wants to spend all of the King’s (Michael G. Bath) money. The stepsisters are back (Sara Mackie and Torie Wiggins) as are “Gwendolyn the Well-Wisher” (Kate Wilford) and “Gaston” (Darnell Pierre Benjamin). Members of the intern class, Maya Farhat and Griff Bludworth, as well as local actress Samantha Russell round out the cast as animal friends come to life.
Dee Ann Bryll’s choreography is infectious, especially during “The Ball” and she was smart to put dancer Benjamin in the front of the pack. But the rest of the cast all appeared to be having the time of their life with this and the other dance numbers (Bath and Girdler are a hoot). The joyful performances put a smile on my face. Director D. Lynn Meyers keeps the action moving while spotlighting every member of this ensemble and their unique senses of humor. Musical Director Scot Wooley should be credited with ensuring the musical elements work in the live production; there’s really nothing bad to say about this innocuous family-friendly show.
CINDERELLA AFTER EVER AFTER runs through December 30th at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. Click here for more information.