‘Cinderella’ brings humor, song and possibility to the PAC

Morgan Hanna, right, plays the titular role of Cinderella in Coastal Act Production’s upcoming musical across from Cameron Garner as Prince Christopher. (Photos by Stephanie Blair)

Pumpkin carriages, lost shoes and glittering gowns that appear out of nowhere are coming to the Newport Performing Arts Center on Feb. 21, when Coastal Act Productions (CAP) opens its latest musical: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.”

“I particularly like this version because it is the most comedic,” Jody Hanna said. “The new Broadway version of Cinderella is much more serious — still has comedy in it, but a much more serious take on Cinderella.”

This isn’t the first time Jody has directed this production, but she’s aiming to make it the best.

“We did this show in 2009, and I’ve always wanted to revisit it,” said Jody. “It was the first show I directed for CAP, and it was the first time I had directed a musical. And that was just a whole new experience than a straight play. So I kind of wanted to re-do it the last two or three years, but it just hasn’t been the right time.”

This year just felt like the right time to do it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Every time I thought about doing other shows, this is the show that just kept coming back.”

Morgan Hanna plays the titular role of Cinderella, across Cameron Garner as Prince Christopher. Also lending her extraordinary stage presence to the production is Leah Carpenter, who performs the role of Fairy Godmother. These three are accompanied by around 64 other actors throughout the show, approximately a third of which are children. The ages in the cast range from eight to 76.

While all of that sounds like a lot to handle, Jody says it’s been a wonderful experience. The cast all chatted amongst themselves and took the initiative to warm up or practice certain combinations from the show’s dance numbers during Jody’s interview. And when Morgan walked out in her ballgown — the first time anyone had seen the glittering blue ensemble — the room was filled with collective excitement, gasps and applause.

“It’s been going great actually,” the director said on Wednesday night. “This is only our third day at the Performing Arts Center, and last night I thought, ‘if we had costumes and sets ready, we could perform in front of an audience.’ Last night’s rehearsal was fantastic.”

The cast is joined in the theater by an orchestra of over 20 members, a mix of professional musicians and high school students, led by conductor Howard Lackey.

“We always go with live music unless there’s some reason we can’t … but a live orchestra is what makes live theater, live theater,” said Jody. “Part of the magic, I think, is the live orchestra.”

The show opens on Friday, Feb. 21, and continues on Feb. 22, Feb. 28-29 and reaches closing weekend on March 6-7. Tickets — $16.50 for adults, $14.50 for students and seniors — can be purchased online at coastarts.org, by calling 541-265-2787 or in person at the box office, located inside the PAC at 777 W Olive St., Newport.