It takes just three seconds for Cinderella’s dress to go from rags to riches. In the new Children’s Musical Theaterworks production of “Cinderella,” the costume magic happens before your very eyes: One swirl and it’s done.
The costumes, designed by Trina Short, are just one of several notable things about the production. Here are five things to know.
1. The story might be old, but the show is really new. When “Cinderella” made its Broadway debut in 2013, the creative team took the script for the 1957 live TV movie on which it was based and rewrote it to give a contemporary sheen.
“When I saw the show on Broadway, it was fresher and way funnier than I ever imagined,” says director Daniel Hernandez. “I left it asking: ‘When was this written?’ ”
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Hernandez signed on to direct “Cinderella” using the old script because those were the only rights available at the time. But when rights were released in April, he jumped at the chance to do the new version, even though it meant a big scramble. The result: The CMT production of the 2013 revival is the first in the country after the Broadway and national touring versions.
2. About those magical costumes. Because no other non-professional company had yet done “Cinderella,” CMT’s creative team couldn’t rely on the online expertise of people who had done it before. Short, who spent 20 hours designing and building Cinderella’s quick-change dress, relied on video of the Tony Awards and the Broadway production, at one point going frame by frame trying to figure out how to make the transformation work.
“Preparing the costume itself is very much like prepping a parachute,” Hernandez says.
There are three points in the show that demand quick changes — and the script is emphatic about how they’re handled. The transformation has to take place on stage. Short built all three costumes.
Meanwhile, the director devised his own solution for Cinderella’s quick-change tiara that involves a hair bumpit, door hinge and hot glue.
3. Recorded music? Not even possible. Another challenge for the company was that no recorded orchestral tracks had yet been made because the show was so new. So CMT arranged for a 23-piece orchestra from University High School to accompany the production. It’s the biggest to ever accompany a CMT show, which has been relying more frequently in recent productions on recorded tracks.
“Just hearing that live orchestra is going to be pretty exciting,” Hernandez says.
The show’s best-known songs include “Ten Minutes Ago,” “In My Own Little Corner” and “A Lovely Night.”
4. Hear her roar. All the elements you expect from a “Cinderella” are there, including fairy godmother, stepsisters, glass slipper, etc. But the show’s new book adds a contemporary sensibility in terms of the personality of Cinderella (played by Mary Bouton and Kelly Gresham in the double-cast show).
“In the older version, she’s passive,” Hernandez says. “This character is smart and on top of her game.”
5. New characters. The new “Cinderella” introduces several new characters. And one of the stepsisters is sympathetic and gets a love interest of her own, a rebel named Jean-Michel, who adds an element of social commentary to the show as a revolutionary fighting to have the voices of the peasants heard.
Hernandez likes that the characters are more fully fleshed out than in the 1957 version.
“People are not truly evil or truly good,” he says. “Not everyone is perfect. Some of the motives of some of the main characters are changed, making them a lot more real and relatable.”
- 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 7; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8; 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9; and Aug. 14-16
- Fresno Memorial Auditorium, 2425 Fresno St.
- $14-22, $10 children
- www.cmtworks.org, (866) 973-9610