From the time we bought our tickets to the time we sat in our seats at the theater, all my roommate and I could talk about was how excited we were to witness the "quick change magic" in Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella. We watched it at the Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts in Costa Mesa, CA in the show's final week of touring. Our seats were in Row M of the Orchestra Terrace and, much to my good fortune, there were about 4 empty seats directly in front of us so I didn't have to dodge heads throughout the performance!
I was hooked from the time the curtains opened. Everything about the production was visually stunning, but naturally my eyes (and heart) focused most on the costumes. Topher (Andy Huntington Jones) looked every bit a hero in his suit of armor and as regal as a prince ought to in his white brocade tailcoat. Ella (Kaitlyn Davidson), even in her rags, was the prettiest girl in the kingdom. Her colors were rich, with olive green and burnt orange, and there was great texture between her blouse, bodice, and apron. Crazy Marie (Liz McCartney)...well, she looked pretty crazy, so mission accomplished! I appreciated how outlandish Madame (Blair Ross), Gabrielle (Kimberly Fauré), and Charlotte (Lulu Picart) looked in their frilly frocks, always in such bright, loud colors that seemed to scream at you. When the Fox and the Raccoon transformed into the Footman and Driver (respectively), I loved that their costumes kept a nod to their animal counterparts by way of their caps. Throughout the ball, my eyes were torn between wanting to watch Ella and Topher share their first dance or gape at how perfect the lighting was on the other dancers. The other ladies' gowns were all so vibrant that you would expect them to drown out the prince and his partner, but that was not the case! The lighting blurred them out, almost in a hazy, dreamy way- the softness of it all playing so well with the light, airy flow of their skirts. I especially loved the orange dress! I usually am not a fan, but the draping in the skirt was divine and it had these poofy organza sleeves I just wanted to squeeze! To top it all off, the dancer had a long orange ostrich feather in her updo. I was obsessed.
But of course my favorite was Ella's ball gown. I felt butterflies well up inside me as the music for "Impossible" queued up. This was it. The quick change magic I had been waiting for. Suddenly I was nervous. What if it wasn't as amazing as I had expected? Or worse! What if the costume malfunctioned and there was no quick change?! How long is this song? Why hasn't she changed yet? Maybe this production doesn't DO the quick change! And then it happened, actual magic before my eyes. Ella's rags dropped to nothing and this gorgeous white gown of tulle perfection appeared. Not a single hint of her dreary life remained. Ella could truly be whoever she wanted to be. I may or may not have cried. We won't talk dwell on that.... I have since deducted that what I saw was actually magic. Yes, I know the costume designer, William Ivey Long, must have spent hours upon hours perfecting the technique in that advanced transformation. But for me, someone who has been dreaming and working towards a career in costuming, that just expanded my sky of possibilities immensely.
It was magic. And I feel like that just brings everything together so perfectly. This story is all about going after what you want, knowing your worth, and making the impossible happen. I love that it can be told, not just through song, but through the costumes as well. As Marie once said, "Go! With the promise of possibility!