‘Cinderella’ at The Puppet Co. by Julia L. Exline

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The Puppet Co. presents Cinderella, arguably the world’s most beloved fairy tale. This version, set in the opulence of 17th Century France, provides a different perspective on a childhood favorite, which I find very welcome in our world where Disney reigns supreme.

The Prince and Cinderella. Photo by Christopher Piper.
The Prince and Cinderella. Photo by Christopher Piper.

Performers Christopher Piper, Allan Stevens, and Molly MacKenzie 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 like 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. They are adorned with elaborate dresses for the masquerade ball (which were common in 17th Century Paris). 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 about in cruel tones. The sisters are used for comedy in this production, screeching at each other and fumbling about as they hurry along in a harried state. 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 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, dripping in flowy green robes with hands that resemble tree branches. This is another aspect of the show that I found interesting. 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”) 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…

The Puppet Co.’s Cinderella will give your children (and yourself!) a different angle of the classic told through puppetry and filled with elegance.

Treat your family to a new twist on an old favorite. You’ll have a ball!

Running Time: 45 minutes, without an intermission.

Cinderella and her Stepmother and Stepsisters. Photo by Christopher Piper.
Cinderella and her Stepmother and Stepsisters and ‘Prince Charming.’ Photo by Christopher Piper.

Cinderella plays through June 9, 2013 at The Puppet Co.—7300 MacArthur Boulevard, in Glen Echo, MD. For tickets, call (301) 634-5380, or order them online.



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