The Hypocrites CINDERELLA AT THE THEATER OF POTATOES Review – A whimsical take on the age-old fairy tale

Hypocrites’ CINDERELLA AT THE THEATER OF POTATOES-2
Elle Walker, Dana Omar, Joel Rodriguez, Leslie Ann Sheppard, Gay Glenn, Aja Wiltshire in the Hypocrites Joe Mazza

Cinderella at the Theater of Potatoes Welcomes You

Right when you step into The Den Theater space, you can tell Cinderella at the Theater of Potatoes is going to be a bright and colorful production. There are roses adorning every available surface and everything from the floor to the ceiling is painted a bright yellow with turquoise and orange accents. The cast greets you and welcomes you into the space while you take in the costume rack filled with assorted wild costumes, along with a piano and stove in the middle of the room. At first everything seems a bit random, eclectic at best, but once the story gets going you see everything fall into place.

The Hypocrites Takes on Opera

Cinderella at the Theater of Potatoes is adapted from Pauline Viardot’s opera, Cendrillon.

The frame for this present day musical is Viardot’s music salon where she has invited her usual acquaintances to put on a show together. They all band together both figuratively and literally, as in typical Hypocrite’s style all the actors play their own instruments. This version of Cinderella differs from the fairy-tale we all know and love because there is no prince, no magic, and no talking animals. Instead, we’re treated to a new story where Cinderella decides to pursue her career in opera singing.

And there is no shortage of opera singing here either. The singing ranges from the purposely mediocre style of the step-sisters Paulinette and Louise, played by Elle Walker and Aja Wiltshire, to the phenomenal soprano powerhouse of Cinderella herself, played by Amanda Raquel Martinez. Each and every one of the characters shone in their own distinct way. Director Sean Graney did a fantastic job of assembling a dynamic and diverse cast from all walks of life.

And a comedy to boot!

The cast also has superb comedic timing throughout the entire play. There were moments between Cinderella and the Baron, played by Joel Rodriguez, where you laughed at the absurdity of Martinez crawling around on the floor trying to keep up with Rodriguez to shine his shoes. Dana Omar playing the Composer also proved her comedic chops with her Captain Obvious-esque statements and on-point line delivery.
The cast strikes the balance of being just the right amount of expressive without going over the top. The start of the play was bordering on campy, but as the cast settled in, it fell back a notch or two. As an added bonus, the potatoes aren’t just a random starch added to the play’s title to sell tickets or there for comedic effect. They serve a purpose as part of Viardot’s salon and turn into a surprise snack at the end!

Cinderella at the Theater of Potatoes is Not just for kids

Cinderella at the Theater of Potatoes is fun, whimsical, and a downright good time. It is definitely family-friendly as evidenced by the cast encouraging the audience to interact with the ensemble.

However, don’t let that fool you into thinking the play is JUST for kids as “family-friendly” so often suggests. There is enough entertainment for adults as well that comes from the fast-paced exchanges and quippy side-comments, along with just being able to enjoy the music composed by Andra Velis Simon.
You get to learn a thing or two about Viardot’s music salon while also enjoying a refreshing take on what could have been another overdone fairy tale. Cinderella at the Theater of Potatoes is a great show to see during the holiday season.

When:

Friday, November 25, 2016 – Sunday, January 8, 2017
Fridays at 8:00 pm
Saturdays at 3:00pm & 8:00pm
Sundays at 3:00pm
Added performances on Thursday, December 22 at 8:00pm and Thursday, December 29 at 8:00pm
There will not be performances on Sunday, December 25 (Christmas Day) and Sunday, January 1 (New Year’s Day).

Where:

The Den Theatre's Heath Main Stage
1329 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago IL, 60622

Tickets:

$15-$28.
Groups of 8 or more: $18 per person.
Tickets are currently on sale at www.the-hypocrites.com

Photo:

Joe Mazza

Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.

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