Tuesday, April 12, 2016

First Look Review: Exceptional, Entertaining, and Enchanting “Ella”

by Blakely Martin

First Stage’s ELLA ENCHANTED is an interesting twist on the classic Cinderella tale and is both exciting and adventurous. Follow Ella into a whimsical world of unicorns and ogres, colorful costumes, and a beautiful set. The amazing costume work of Jenny Thurnau and Leah Dueno really brings the story to life from the outgoing pink and greens of the stepsisters to the humpbacks of the ogres (costume design by Brandon Kirkham).


When Lucinda, Ella’s Fairy Godmother, gifts Ella with obedience, it turns out to have more impediments than assets. When her mother dies and her new wicked stepmother and stepsisters take over the household, they soon uncover her secret. Their misuse of her required obedience impels Ella to run away, right into a pack of ogres. Ella may be cursed, but she has the resolve to find her internal strength.

From the silly actions of Olive to the song of the ogres, there is humor for everyone in this family friendly musical. Ella’s stepsisters, Hattie and Olive (played by Madison Penzkover and Mari Duckler in the Brilliant Cast), were especially humorous throughout the musical.

The transformative acting displayed by Taylor Kass as Ella is remarkable. Cole Winston as Char is also an excellent performer. John Maclay did an excellent job training these actors to see things from their character's perspective.

When I came to the show, I was struck by the committal of the actors to their characters. The actors really seemed to understand what their character was thinking and where they were coming from.

They displayed these emotions not only in their acting, but also in their music. Music director Jeff Schaetzke did an excellent job with honing the voices of these young performers. When Taylor Kass sings, she dazzles all in the audience. When the cast is singing together, there is this captivating aura around the theatre.

The choreography (by Jessica Beth Redish) of the dancing is spot on. It really helps the songs come to life and also helps bring the characters to life.

Beyond the dancing, singing, set, and costumes, there are also a lot of people behind the scenes that did a lot of work to make this show as remarkable as it is. The work put into this show by people like Melissa Wanke and Michael Warren was not put to waste.

This production was magnificent, brilliant, enthralling and rightly enchanting. I genuinely think that all families will enjoy this production of Ella Enchanted.

ELLA ENCHANTED continues through May 1, 2016.

Blakely is a 13 year old Academy Student and Young Performer who has been in many First Stage productions including Sherlock Holmes: The Baker Street Irregulars. She enjoys writing because she finds it a functional way to express oneself, similar to performing. Thank you for your First Look review Blakely!

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