The upcoming Shippensburg Area Senior High School Drama Club production of “Cinderella” will surely be a surprise for many in the audience.
“This isn't your grandmother's 'Cinderella,'” Director Luke Reed said with a smile during a recent dress rehearsal with the cast. “It's fun and silly, but it also has a lot of deep things that I thought high school kids today could relate to. It's a whole new, interesting take on it. It's more aimed at teens, but there are lots of moments for kids to enjoy, as well.”
Reed said this is the biggest cast he's had for a fall play at the high school. Fifty-five cast members, including eight to 10 crew members will bring the production together for the public at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, and Saturday, Nov. 17, in the high school auditorium.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. Admission is free for preschool-age children.
A synopsis of the production is as follows: “A servant girl named Ella has her life turned upside down when the mysterious Prince returns from exile in search of a bride. As young women claw at each other's throats to become the next Princess of the Kingdom, Ella finds herself reluctantly thrown into the national spotlight and furthermore, the Prince's heart. With hilarious hijinks, swashbuckling swindlers and longing lovers, the whole family can enjoy this new and heartfelt take on the classic tale.”
The cast came together for a full dress rehearsal recently, giving a sneak peek into a ballroom scene that will surely have the audience dancing in their seats.
“This is definitely not a Disney version of the fairy tale,” Reed added. “You learn a lot about the Prince in this one, and the Fairy Godmother is a little more modern. The contest for the Prince's heart is more like an ‘American Idol’/reality show. We have pirates and sword fights. We have some music, but it's not a musical, per se.”
Reed said when he chose the script, there were so many parts that he was worried he wouldn't have enough students to fill all of the roles.
“But, we had so many come out to audition, it's as big as our musicals! There really is a moment for each one to shine in 'Cinderella.'”
One exciting part of hosting the productions is having the students perform the play for Shippensburg's elementary schools. Reed said the younger pupils will see the entire show on Nov. 14 and 16.
“It's exciting for me to get to offer every kid in this town a free theatrical experience,” Reed added.
As for his directing technique, Reed said he doesn't fit the kids to the show.
“I fit the show to the kids,” he explained. “This makes the shows more enjoyable for the audiences, when they are being their biggest, fullest versions of themselves up there. I think of acting as revealing who you really are, not becoming someone else. I want them to be comfortable and be silly, and let their guard down, which is a director's dream.”
Mady Rosenberry, who plays Adeline, said she is involved with the production and the Drama Club because, “I love, love, love the people, and what we can do for people in two hours.”
“If people can leave with a smile, then that makes me smile,” she said.
Mady said her favorite part about the script is it is so incredibly different than any other Cinderella production. “It's a different style of writing. The humor is similar to 'Peter and the Starcatcher.' I think this is funnier.”
Mady said Adeline is “bright in an ignorant way.”
“She's great! She's a real gem!”
Nicole Ocker, who plays Ella, said she wanted to be involved with this production because, “it's such a timeless tale. Everyone knows it.”
“I love this club as a whole because we work together to create something magical,” she added. Nicole said the script is genius because it weaves modern-day problems into a classic tale. “There's something about that that's so amazing. It touches on real-world problems that people are facing, and I know it will hit home for a lot of people.”
She said Ella is so smart and stands her ground more than the classic Cinderella does. “I think for young women this day and age, that is so important,” she added. “I love her! She's just amazing!”
Jenna Cornell, who plays Belora, said, she loves the theater and loves how welcoming everyone in the club is.
“It's one big family,” she added. “We want to bring smiles to people's faces. When I watch productions, I leave with a warm feeling and I want to give that same feeling to people.”
Jenna also loves how the script touches on real problems people face. “There is something for everyone in this production,” she said.
Jenna also feels she has a lot in common with her character.
“She's a quirky girl going through some stuff,” she said, with a laugh. “She's odd, but in a good way. She brings smiles even though she's going through her own emotional problems.”
Cole Pearson plays Gen. Vauban and Jonah Langella plays Shiv-Hand Jim.
“I like coming here every day because it gives me a chance to be with my friends and develop my abilities,” Cole said.
He said he likes the new take on Cinderella and that his character has his own facade. “You can tell he's a very refined professional,” he said.
Jonah said the audience will definitely recognize elements from the classic Cinderella, but added the vast majority of the script is different.
“I like that we do different scenes every day and every day, we leave with a different experience,” he said.
Raymond Knight, who plays The King, said he loves the director and the cast, and that this is unlike many high school plays.
“We make close connections with each other and we aren't fake. Luke encourages real emotions and it's intense, like a real theater production,” he added.
Raymond said he likes that the script is original and enjoys the political aspects that are played into it.
“I like playing The King because he's a jerk!” he laughed. “I like The King. He has a few surprises by the end.”
Drew Haritos, who plays Natacha, said she wanted to be in the play because the club helps her to open up, and it's a happy environment.
“It's a very fun and loud script,” she said. “We use a lot of Shakespearean-esque language and to see high schoolers say it so eloquently is very cool.”
Drew said her character is such a contrast from her own personality.
“She's eccentric, where I tend to be more shy and reserved,” she added. “I like the challenge that it presents to me to play her.”
Zeke Lyman, who plays Dax the Baker, has been doing plays since the 6th grade.
“I have made so many friends and this helps me to relax and feel at home,” he added. “I like that it gives me the ability to be who I am and not who the world thinks I am.”
Zeke was apprehensive about joining the production until he read the script.
“There were all of these crazy characters and it was a lot cooler than I thought it would be,” he admitted. He said learning lines also helps him cultivate good responsibility, which is good to have for your future.
“The script is great because it's original and has all of these neat twists,” he said.
Zeke likes his character because, “I noticed how much he is me,” he said. “He's in the background working on one thing. He can be focused or not focused at all. He has a dedication to Belora and to his baking. He's also super funny, and I like being funny. It's a good fit for me.”
The cast of the SASHS Drama Club's production of “Cinderella,” is:
Abby Banks; Abigail Stewart; Adema Scholtka; Alyvia Kyle; Amaya Jackson; Anna Pyatt; Ashley Miller; Ashton Ulmer; Brooke Eby; Caitlyn Caffee; Chalaina Potts; Clayton Diehl; Cole Pearson; Drew Haritos; Emily Brewer; Emma Watts; Gracelyn Foxworth; Hattie Riess; Hayley Mellott; Jenna Cornell; Jonah Langella; Kaylie Illingsworth; Kendra Kent; Kiera Mohney; Kristin Thompson; Laurelei Liechty; Leah Staver; Leah Thompson; Madelin Madamba; Madison Carr; Mady Rosenberry; Margaret Spicka; Megan Reinsfelder; Michaela Cameron; Michen Jean-Pierre; Natalie Crawford; Natalie Spicka; Nicole Ocker; Olivia Bailey; Olivia Reed; Owen Madamba; Parker Stouffer; Rachel Sidella; Raymond Knight; Reuben Giles; Sabrina Bondi; Sam Burg; Sam Lohman; Susanna Liechty; Zachary Levy; and Zeke Lyman.
Crew is: Isaac Kipe; Wade Kipe; Trinity Hines; and Tatum Parks.