Have a Ball Seeing Cinderella: Enchanted! - TribPapers

Have a Ball Seeing Cinderella: Enchanted!

Janae Hammond (Cinderella) is with Xavi Soto Burgos (Prince Christopher). Photo by Scott Treadway/Treadshots.

Flat Rock – Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella: Enchanted is a spectacular musical rendition of a timeless romantic, social-themed, family-friendly tale, playing this month in the Flat Rock Playhouse.

This quality production is up to FRP’s heightened standards, often exceeding them with visual and audial splendor. Chris Rice-Thompson directs.

Janae Hammond portrays Cinderella. Her heartthrob, Prince Christopher, is played by Xavi Soto Burgos. They have chemistry. Though from different worlds, they each want to break free from having their lives ruled by others. When dancing with her at the ball, the prince feels he has known Cinderella “forever.” He wonders if they met. They literally bumped into each other in the village.

Hammond’s Cinderella is good-natured. She triumphantly transforms from a bullied wallflower to an assertive true love-finder. Burgos and Hammond are among several cast members with Disney cruise entertainer experience.

Characterization is convincing across the cast. Oft-smiling Hammond oozes with innocent charm. Gentlemanly Burgos also conveys a sense of righteousness.


Indeed, many lines amplify themes of equal opportunity and humanity. “Everyone deserves to be treated with respect,” Prince Christopher says. Cinderella slaves to her bullying evil stepsisters and their obnoxious mother. But she eventually bucks them, declaring she has as much right to attend the prince’s ball as do the sisters. They mock her chances to land the prince, and even deny her existence when the search for whose foot fits the glass slipper comes to their home.

Chloe Fox makes a tarantula seem docile, as the conniving and sinister Stepmother. Fox looks a bit young compared to her two spoiled younger daughters. But taller family boss Fox is perfect with her haughty attitude and sinister grin, as she orders Cinderella around. She rips apart the heirloom dress Cinderella will wear to the ball.

Her selfish, condescending, terrorizing stepsisters are well played by Kaitlyn Louise Smith as Grace, and Kaley Were as younger and taller Joy. Smith appropriately toured with Mean Girls. Costume designer Ashli Crump colorfully contrasts outfits of the stepmother and sisters, and ensemble ball dancers as well. Costume crafters include local native Alli Surrett.

The Fairy Godmother is played by Ladonna Burns, in a boisterous and comic-relieving way. Omnipresent Burns encourages Cinderella to stand up for herself — as she eventually does. The third strong and often overbearing female character is Kathleen Watson as Queen Constintina, the kingdom’s true ruler. She sets up a prince’s ball for him to meet a bride, without telling him.

Scott Treadway, in his 40th FRP season, plays royal lead servant Lionel who hawks over the prince. The stepmother stalks and woos Lionel, to try to gain favor in hope that the prince weds one of her preferred daughters. She pretends “there’s something between us.” Treadway’s Lionel doesn’t buy that. He snarls while moving away from her, “I sure wish there’s something (literally) between us.”

Music, Dance, Vocals

Richard Rodger’s assortment of invigorating and tender music combined with Oscar Hammerstein’s perky lyrics for Broadway’s legendary songwriting team. The FRP band off-stage is spectacular. Pianist Ethan Andersen conducts the others: violinist Mariya Potapova, trumpeter Chris Imhoff, percussionist Paul Babelay, bassist Andy Preston, and Misty Rondeau on reeds.

Ball waltzing flows gracefully. Ensemble dancers include Hendersonville natives Ben Mackel, Kaitlyn Harrington, and Brianna Haston.

Singing sizzles. Hammond’s smooth voice fits Cinderella’s gentle nature. The most exceptional vocals include those by Burgos, Hendersonville native Galloway Stevens as hen-pecked King Maximilian, Watson, and Fox. Burgos is dynamic on ballads such as “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful.”

That song’s clever lyrics have the prince asking Cinderella: “Do I love you because you’re beautiful? Or are you (seemingly more) beautiful, because I love you? … Do I love you because you’re wonderful, or are you wonderful because I want you? … Are you the sweet invention of a lover’s dream? Or are you really as wonderful as you seem?”

Treadway carries “The Prince is Giving a Ball” quite well. “Impossible,” which Burns sings, foretells her spellbinding, transformative favor for Cinderella.

Special Effects

The audience astonishingly sighs as the pumpkin supposedly turns into a large carriage that a curtain hides. The illusionary spell also has Cinderella’s house cat turning into the driver, a bird into a guardian, and four house mice becoming horses — actresses with horse head costumes. The house animals are puppets. The mice playfully hop about.

Patrick Lord’s projection design effectively uses transluscent screens, working well with Ben Hamman’s lighting for surrealistic scenes. They convey the godmother’s misty magic, and dreamily recount how after her father died Cinderella ended up in perpetual servitude. Veteran designer Dennis Maulden’s detailed sets drive home illusions.

The only apparent plot glitch visually is when the carriage heads off to the ball. For the better, that isolates Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother for a pep talk. But if reality crept in, then Cinderella needs world-class distance running to catch her ride.

Emmy-winning Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella on March 31, 1957 starred Julie Andrews live on CBS. It reportedly had more viewers than any TV program up until then. The film Cinderella in 2021 starred Camila Cabello. FRP’s Enchanted edition stems from the teleplay in 1997 starring Whitney Houston.

The Playhouse’s version ushers in an enchanting, heartwarming adventure well worth experiencing.

Cinderella: Enchanted runs through July 2. For tickets, check: www.flatrockplayhouse.org/cinderella.