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Ever After

a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY MUSICAL
by Marcy Heisler (words) and Zina Goldrich (music)

COMPANY : Alliance Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Woodruff Art Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 5430

SHOWING : January 16, 2019 - February 17, 2019

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

From award-winning songwriting team Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler comes a captivating musical based on the hit film. Share the journey of Danielle de Barbarac as she risks everything to save a friend from an unjust fate, capturing the heart and imagination of a country along the way. With the help of none other than Leonardo da Vinci, Danielle must decide not only who she is, but what she’ll fight for, and how far she’ll go for love. A new take on the Cinderella legend, "Ever After" celebrates the true magic at the heart of the beloved story – the strength of the human spirit.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Susan V. Booth
Queen Marie Terry Burrell
King Francis Chris Kayser
Ensemble Chani Maisonet
Ensemble Joseph Jong Pendergrast
Louise/Ensemble Rhyn Saver
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REVIEWS

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Clever Laughter
by playgoer
Sunday, January 27, 2019
4.0
A feisty heroine who loves books and a quirky old man who invents contraptions. "Beauty and the Beast?" No.

Tambourine-wielding, colorfully-dressed peasant types dancing wildly. "The Hunchback of Notre Dame?" No.

A quirky female leading a comic dance at the palace ball. "Once Upon a Mattress?" No.

A feisty heroine lifting a rifle and shooting a partridge. "Annie Get Your Gun?" No.

All these familiar elements (and more) appear in the new musical "Ever After," adapted from the Cinderella-based movie. Actually, the Cinderella aspects of the story don’t invite direct comparisons with other versions except in the extraneous mention of the name "Cinderella" and in the losing of a sparkling slipper that has no plot implications whatever. Remove these two elements and the musical would have a more independent life. Sure, there’s an evil stepmother and two stepsisters, but they have sufficiently unique backstories to function as entities separate from the stock Cinderella fairytale.

The Alliance production sports an amazing scenic design by Anna Louizos, with lots of set pieces flying or sliding on and off to set each scene. Projected backgrounds by Sven Ortel give true depth and locality to these settings. In combination with Linda Cho’s colorful costumes just this side of gaudy and with Robert Wierzel’s effective lighting, "Ever After" is a delightful visual feast. True, some of Charles G. LaPointe’s wigs are so extreme that one fell off during the performance I attended, but even they add to the visual appeal.

Ken Travis’ sound design works well in the new Coca-Cola auditorium, letting everything be heard without blasting off the ears of audience members or introducing muddiness through unpleasant echoes. It helps that most of the cast have good, strong voices. Massed choral numbers let the vocal power flow over the audience.

Susan V. Booth has directed the show to keep the action visible (although one moment on the floor downstage left had audience members cocking their heads to be able to see around the heads of people in front of them). Joann M. Hunter’s choreography works very well in the more uninhibited numbers and less so in the more staid ones. There’s lots of movement throughout, and most of the costumes accommodate the kinetic energy of the dances.

The balance of songs and dialogue in the show is just about right. Not all numbers work equally well, though. The opening royal court scenes of both acts are basically throw-away in terms of content, acting more to establish mood. Standout numbers include "Who Needs Love?" and "My Cousin’s Cousin" (although the program lacks a list of musical numbers, so the titles may not be exact). These two songs highlight the delightful comic chops of star Sierra Boggess. There’s a pleasant, if truncated title song in a flashback scene. The finale of "Out of the Darkness" is stirring, but pretty generic in terms of content.

The songs involving covetous neighbor Pierre Malette (Jeff McCarthy) are perhaps the most problematic. His lurking presence in early scenes isn’t terribly well explained, so his declaration of intentions toward Danielle (Ms. Boggess) seems a bit off-kilter, and the song isn’t as tuneful as most others. A reprise section in a later song with the wondrous Rachel York falls equally flat.

The cast is thoroughly professional across the board, with almost all actors Equity. Non-Equity Joseph J. Pendergrast has proven himself to be one of Atlanta’s foremost dancers, although here he mostly appears in a trio of male dancers including the dynamic Kyle Vaughn. Preternaturally perky child Bella Yantis is the other non-Equity actor.

Impossibly handsome Tim Rogan provides a wonderful foil for Ms. Boggess in the romance department, and Rachel Flynn plays up every comic moment as funny stepsister Jacqueline. Ms. York is wonderful as the stepmother, and Jenny Ashman is effective as the nasty stepsister. My favorite non-lead in the cast, though, is Rhyn McLemore Saver as servant Louise. Her commitment to character is extraordinary, giving sincerity and getting laughs in equal measure.

"Ever After" is on a journey that ideally will lead to Broadway. As family-friendly fare that contains only one four-letter word (really eight-letter, when preceded by "bull"), it certainly would seem to have a built-in audience. With some more work, it could be a sure-fire hit. Ms. Goldrich’s music tends to the bright and memorable, and Ms. Heisler’s lyrics enrich the melodies with sly humor and engaging rhymes. With every number honed to its sparkling best, this would be a delight from start to finish.
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