"Cinderella," one of the world’s
most enduring and beloved fairy tales – which plays through Dec.
20 at the Heights Players – has a history as interesting as the
One of the earliest versions of the story of the beautiful youngest
daughter abused by her jealous stepmother and her ugly stepsisters,
dates back to ninth-century China. More than 500 variations of
the story have been recorded in Europe, the most famous of which
appeared in Charles Perrault’s "Contes de mon mere l’oye"
(1697) or "Tales of Mother Goose," from which the English
version is translated.
In Perrault’s version, Cinderella’s fairy godmother appears and
provides the clothing and carriage that allow Cinderella to go
to the ball where she will meet the prince. But in most versions
of the story, the supernatural helper is Cinderella’s dead mother,
or an animal sent by her mother to help her beleaguered offspring.
Likewise, the agency of a glass slipper by which the prince recognizes
the cinder girl as the fair young maid he met at the ball is
unique in Perrault; in other versions, it is a golden or silver
slipper or ring that helps the prince recognize his beloved.
Additionally, the details of the complete story – often replete
with gruesome accounts of how the elder sisters attempted to
fit their large feet into the tiny slipper or how they were eventually
punished – are most often omitted from many children’s versions.
The Rodgers and Hammerstein 1959 television version – now at
the Heights Players, directed by Jim McNulty – starring Julie
Andrews as Cinderella, Jon Cypher as the Prince, Edie Adams as
the Fairy Godmother and Ilka Chase as the Stepmother, is one
of the milder, and certainly one of the more musical versions
of "Cinderella." [Rossini’s opera, "La Cenerentola
(1817) is based on a modified version of the story.]
Happily, the Heights Players have kept much of the splendor that
characterized the television incarnations of "Cinderella"
(in 1965, starring Leslie Ann Warren as Cinderella, Stuart Damon
as the Prince, Celeste Holm as the Stepmother, Walter Pidgeon
as the King, and Ginger Rogers as the Queen; and in 1997, starring
pop star Brandy in the title role with a multi-ethnic supporting
cast that included Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother, Bernadette
Peters as the Stepmother and Whoopi Goldberg as the Queen – wearing
$60 million in borrowed Harry Winston jewelry.)
In the Heights Players version, Albert Walsh has provided a wardrobe
of lavish gowns and tunics that show lots of male leg. And Robert
J. Weinstein does wonders lighting the miraculous events.
Charlotte Delaney stars as Cinderella. She’s everything the title
character should be: sweet and innocent with a powerful set of
lungs for songs like "In My Own Little Corner" and
"Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?"
Sharon Wyse as the Queen and Michael Blake as the King are a
mature and affectionate counterweight to the Prince and Cinderella’s
But, of course, it’s the evil characters that have all the fun.
This reviewer particularly liked the sullen stance taken by Zehra
Abdi, who plays the not-so-aptly named Joy.
Tina Throckmorton, who has previously been seen at the Heights
Players as Fiona MacLaren in "Brigadoon" and Queen
Guenevere in "Camelot," adds a welcome dash of sarcasm
as the fairy godmother to this otherwise saccharine tale. And,
of course, her awesome soprano voice is always appreciated.
It’s the holiday season, a time of warmth and cheer. And what
is warmer, what is more cheerful than that greatest rags-to-riches
story ever told? So put on your scarf and mittens, and round
up the kids. Then bundle everyone into a car (if you haven’t
got a carriage) and herd them off to see Cinderella and the Prince
make their magic one more time.
The Heights Players production of "Cinderella" runs
through Dec. 20, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at
2 pm. Tickets are $15, $13 students and seniors. The Heights
Players are located at 26 Willow Place between State and Joralemon
streets in Brooklyn Heights. For more information, call (718)