Cinderella opens Nov. 1 as ‘the perfect fit’ for a fall musical
Saint Michael’s College presents the musical “Cinderella” for its fall theater production which runs from November 1 until November 4 at McCarthy Arts Center Theater. All performances begin at 7 p.m., are free, and are open to the public.
Peter Harrigan, Professor of Fine Arts/Theater at Saint Michael’s, is the musical’s Director and Costume Designer. John Paul Devlin, Professor of Fine Arts/ Theatre is the Scenery and Lighting Designer. Local musician, composer, and performer, Tom Cleary, who was part of the crew for Saint Michael’s 2023 spring production of “Woman This & Woman That: An Evening of Suffrage Plays” returned to Saint Michael’s to serve as the Musical Director.
Harrigan said “Cinderella” was a great choice for a post-pandemic fall production.
“I’m thrilled to work on this lovely and uplifting show, at a time when the world could use some soothing and some joy,” Harrigan said.
Harrigan said the Saint Michael’s Theater department plants a seed with students early on to begin thinking about their senior capstone project, which is a creative project that could include acting, directing, designing, writing or teaching.
McKenzie “Kenzie” Rowbotham ’24, who is a double major in Theater and Music said as a first-year student in Harrigan’s Theatre is Imagination class, she decided she wanted to pitch a musical for her senior capstone project.
“Kenzie has been very focused from the beginning that she really wanted to work on a musical,” Harrigan said. “She proposed it.”
Rowbotham will be acting and singing the lead role of Cinderella, which will fulfill her senior seminar project for both her Theater and Music majors. Rowbotham is also the show’s choreographer, which fulfills her honors capstone project.
“The version that we’re doing—the enchanted edition— is the closest to the 1997 movie with
Brandy and Whitney Houston. I thought this was the best one,” Rowbotham said. “To me, it felt like the perfect fit.”
Harrigan said the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of “Cinderella” was created in 1957, for a black and white telecast starring Julie Andrews, who was also appearing in “My Fair Lady” on Broadway at the time. The piece was revised and expanded for color television audiences in 1965, starring Lesley Ann Warren. The Rodgers and Hammerstein organization updated the script in 1997 for a new version starring Whitney Houston, Brandy, and Bernadette Peters, and subsequently created the stage version Saint Michael’s is producing.
“It gives Cinderella more agency but retains classic songs such as Ten Minutes Ago, In My Own Little Corner, Impossible, and the darkly funny Stepsister’s Lament,” Harrigan said.
In preparation for proposing “Cinderella,” Rowbotham assessed that the show would fit the budget and match parts for the number of actors already in the Theater department, while also allowing space for new people. She researched the licensing through the Concord Theatricals website to guarantee the performance would be available during the timeframe Saint Michael’s needed the production and decided which version of “Cinderella” to license.
Harrigan said “Cinderella” was also the perfect fit “because it features so many plum roles for women” and was a great “showcase for our triple-threat” Rowbotham.
Ainsley Cook ’24 will also be fulfilling her senior capstone project as a Theater major. Cook is one of two Production Stage Managers for “Cinderella,” working alongside Kailey Palmer ’26.
This is Cook’s second time working as a Production Stage Manager, which entails taking all 14 different cast members’ schedules into account each week to plan rehearsals. Cook will be wearing a headset during the show to communicate backstage and to call light and sound queues.
The show also features Yamuna Turco ’25, who Harrigan said “brings her Miss Vermont magic and terrific singing voice to the role of the Fairy God Mother.”
The cast includes fourteen students with six first-year students. Melissa Hall ’27 appears in both the ensemble onstage as well as the trumpet in the pit orchestra.
Both Cook and Rowbotham credit the Theater department for bringing their creative talents into the spotlight.
“Our Theater department is so welcoming, which is why I came here,” Rowbotham said.
“It’s one big, happy family.”
Performances are Wednesday through Saturday, November 1-4 at 7:00 pm sharp in McCarthy Arts Center Theater. The 90 minute show is ideal for audiences age 5 and up, has free admission, and first-come, first-served seating.