The New Fairfield High School Rebel Players will take to the stage in a production of Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella in four shows over the last weekend in March. The lively singing and impressive choreography ensure that audience members have an enchanted experience ahead.
Director, Jennifer McPartlin, says that, “This is a show for EVERYONE in New Fairfield!” Not only is it age-appropriate for the town’s youngest fairy tale fans on up, the story is given a new and vibrant life off of the page, “Cinderella is a story that everyone knows, but not many people have seen live–with so much music, dance, and magic, it will make you believe you can make the impossible, possible!” McPartlin said.
Originally written for television in 1957, as were several new musicals at the time, Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella has enjoyed Broadway and West End runs and revivals, plus has toured nationally many times.
At a recent rehearsal, nearly three dozen students packed the stage to perfect the quintessential ball scene. The group fluidly moved from one dance movement to the next, every actor fully in their part. When McPartlin broke the scene to correct a sequence or two, they comically morphed back into their fidgety, joking teenage selves. Of their work ethic and openness, McPartlin says, “This is the third musical I have directed and choreographed at NFHS, and what I always find to be so wonderful about working with these students is that they are willing to try anything–whether it is suggested by me, or if I ask them to create something for themselves.”
The students gave reverse praise, several noting that the cast and mentors feel like a family. When asked about their experiences over the last several months of rehearsals, and in the lead up to the show weekend, they spoke of excitement, nerves, and the benefits of creative expression. They also emphasized the safe space to act and not feel judged.
For this super-tech generation, these roles allow the students to step back in time. Sophomore Roman Kozloski, who is playing Cinderella’s Prince, said that he likes this year’s choice of show for its “pure mindset” and its “elements of chivalry.” Dance Captain, Junior Megan Reynolds has been given the challenge of taking her fellow thespians back to the country dances of the 19th C. Her first year acting in a high school musical, Reynolds says that she is “…happy to share what I know about dance, and learn more about acting at the same time.”
The waltz was a challenge for many of the actors, but they’ve nearly got it nailed now. “I promised these students that by the end of this production, everyone would know how to waltz. I’m sticking to that!” McPartlin said, “The Ball will be the grand affair it always promises to be!”
Many of the students have been acting with each other for years, including Senior Sarah Brundage who said that the shows will be “bittersweet.” Playing the Fairy Godmother, Brundage says she has “learned a lot from the role. I will be taking the Fairy Godmother’s advice off to college.”
Perhaps most giddy are the students playing the eponymous role. Juniors Julia Berardo and Therese Kutzy split the role of the sweet cinder girl. Kutzy says that she is “…enjoying the fairy tale role” relaying that it’s “less silly than other parts” she has had before. Of the intricate dances she says, “They’re tiring, but cool.”
One of the biggest challenges that the cast and crew face is the aging auditorium, “The auditorium is a fossil,” McPartlin said. She went on to lament that, “These students give 110% of their talents in a space that offers 40% support, and they deserve more.” There are continuing discussions in the district about construction projects that would prioritize the auditorium, “I sure hope we can find a way to fund a space worthy of the talent at New Fairfield High School!” McPartlin stressed. She went on to say, “I believe with the new BOE leadership, Dr. Sanzo as our financial administrator, and Principal D’Amico starting in July of this year, we have a chance of seeing that happen in the not-too-distant future.”
McPartlin hopes that all of the students take away heavy doses of accomplishment from the spring musical, “The end result is always so satisfying for us all, and I always remind them, before every opening show, to take a look at what they have created from nothing. It is all theirs to cherish and share with the community…” She says of the show weekend that the “… feeling of pride is what keeps me coming back every year,” in fact, she said “I don’t think I could ever walk away from this work–it’s genuinely an honor to work with these kids.”
All of the months of role playing, improvisation, singing, choreography, blocking, and rehearsing until they’ve gotten it all right are almost at an end and they are nearly ready to share the show with the community. McPartlin is excited for the audience to see so many scenes in the show, including “…the transformation of Cinderella from ‘servant girl’ to ‘princess,’ even I turn into a 5th grader when we get to that moment in the show! Bring on the magic!”
New Fairfield High School’s production of Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella will play, Friday, 3/29, 7:00pm; Saturday, 3/30, 2:00pm and 7:00pm; and Sunday, 3/31, 2:00pm.
Tickets are $10 children/students/seniors; $12 adults.
For ticket information/reservations: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sarah Opdahl