Review: ‘Cinderella’ Sends the Message of Kindness Through Magic

Jealous step-sister Charlotte (sophomore Paris Suttle) began act two with “Stepsister’s Lament” accompanied by the ladies of the court. Together they questioned, “Why would a fellow want a girl like her?” after seeing Prince Topher dance with and show interest in a disguised Cinderella at the ball.

Manan Mendiratta and Shawyan Rooein

“Cinderella” left no room for disappointment with yet another brilliant showing by the visual and performing arts department at the Portola High theater with showings ranging from March 6 to 8. Portola High’s rendition of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” captivated viewers with a brilliant soundtrack and unforgettable theatrical moments that left us excited for the next musical.

From the dynamic stage effects and backdrops to perfect sound cues, the actors, stage crew and pit orchestra all played a key role in the musical’s success. The vocals from the cast were exceptional, like in the Fairy Godmother’s (junior Stella Park) “There’s Music in You,” which left the entire crowd applauding.

More than the music, the comedic gags incorporated throughout the play were just as enjoyable with characters like the stepsisters (junior Rachel Abalos and sophomore Paris Suttle), but the musical did not stop there. It also featured many heart-warming reactions, like the ones between Prince Topher (senior Nishad Francis) and Jean-Michel (junior Ian Aros), which left us pleased after their previous animosity.

However, those behind the stage, whether it be the individuals in technical theater handling the lighting or the musicians in the pit orchestra, contributed equally to the show’s success.

“For sound design, we had a few elements that we were mixing for a warmer feel, which meant that we had a vibrant orchestra, but we also had a lot of ensemble in there with some leads on top,” sound design member and junior Connor Blank said. “We also integrated some sound effects, which on our end were just to play with, but in the orchestra we had a little bit of say there too, so we were able to change the way the orchestra mixed in order to create something that was warmer than other shows.”

“Cinderella” featured an array of talent within its cast that left us impressed. Junior Raksha Rajeshmohan’s melodious vocal tone and engaging expressions as Cinderella added to the mood of every scene and captivated both of us for the entire play. We especially enjoyed her opening sequence in “My Little Corner,” which set a high standard for the rest of the musical giving us and fellow audience members a taste of magic.

Francis perfectly complemented Rajeshmohan with his rich vocal performance and comedic touches. Park also stood out in the musical, perfectly balancing the contrasting characters of Marie and the Fairy Godmother while working through minor errors on opening night with her wardrobe.

¨T̈his was a growth mindset process, and there was a lot growing on both ends for us all to work together to make this show as successful as it was,” performing arts teacher and director Samantha Sanford said.

Besides the complex on-stage attractions with lighting and props, this year’s musical included an added touch with audience involvement, which was a pleasant surprise. The magic wands, sold in the lobby, added a unique and magical touch to the show and engaged the audience, especially younger children.

Whenever Park waved her wand, children turned on their wands and immersed themselves in the world of magic right along with the actors on stage.

One of the key parts of this year’s spring musical was its emphasis on kindness both within and surrounding the show, which fit nicely with the story of Cinderella.

¨Finding something that the community can benefit from and take away from is huge, especially with PRIDE values being such a grounding force here at Portola, and I think in this climate, no matter who you are, everyone can benefit from a reminder that kindness can truly be magical,¨ Sanford said.

For many of the cast members and teachers involved, this show meant more than a successful production. It was something that over months of rehearsals became something truly close to their hearts.

“It’s amazing because [elementary school students] literally look up at me with these wide eyes, and I remember being that young and having dreams, and my dream came true with this show,” Rajeshmohan said. “I just want to tell all the little girls that meet me or see the show that their dreams can come through as well.”