By MARIA SCIULLO
It’s hard to imagine a more delightful birthday celebration than Resonance Works‘ three-act operetta, Viardot’s Cinderella.
Based on that well-known fairy tale about the put-upon young lady and her glass slipper, Friday night’s adaptation had Cinderella (Cendrillon, from the French) reading from a book and musing, “This sounds so familiar but it’s rather … Grimm.”
The basis for the 70-minute program was initially composed as a fashionable Paris salon event by Pauline Viardot and debuted in 1904. Viardot, born Michele Ferdinand de Paulina Garcia, was the daughter of Spanish tenor Manuel Garcia. She lived a long and interesting life, surrounded by friends such as Frederic Chopin, George Sand, Charles Dickens, and her husband, Louis Viardot.
Despite her talent as a singer, pianist, and composer, she was often overlooked; she was, after all, a woman.
For the Resonance Works staging at The Studio at Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie, Emily Pulley has chosen a clever English translation by colleague Ben Robinson and cooked up a Pittsburgh tale, of sorts. A shield above the prince’s throne features Dippy the Dinosaur from the Carnegie Museum of Natural HIstory, as well as the Steelers logo and three rivers. References to cookie tables, Giant Eagle, and someone as a “jagoff” might have added up to one big cringe, but it did not, much to the delight of the audience.
Instead, the seven cast members, with stage direction from Pulley and Resonance Works artistic director and producer Maria Sensi Sellner conducting, threw themselves into the mayhem with glee.
Soprano Shannon Jennings has a compelling voice in the dual role of Cinderella and a young version of Pauline. Pulley portrays the Fairy Godmother, as well as an older version of Pauline, one who wants her to consider re-considering what she wants from life.
It’s a tale old as time, yada yada, but the twists are refreshing. No evil stepmother here, just a lazy bum of a stepfather called Baron Pictordu (baritone Patrick McNally). Stepsisters Gillian Hassert and Katy Lindhart are a pair of garish Karens who enter arguing over what constitutes a Pittsburgh Salad.
Over at the castle, Prince Charming (Donovan Elliot Smith) and the foppish Count Barigoule (Gabriel Hernandez) switch roles, Prince-and-the-Pauper style, as the big ball approaches.
Robert Frankenberry is at the piano as Chopin, with Maureen Conlon-Gutierrez (violin) and Elisa Kohanski (cello) on strings.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Resonance Works, hence the party setting through Sunday. The operetta was preceded by a salon of drinks, hot hors d’oeuvres, and, yes, a cookie table that featured some truly remarkable sugar treats shaped like pumpkin coaches, clocks, horses and castles.
A station to make your own magic wand was a nice touch to this all-ages production, and the cast members and a few friends sang mostly standards in cabaret fashion. The intimate staging was lit with purples and pinks by designer Nicole White; Damian Dominguez created the bold costumes.
This Cinderella might not have the “bippity boppity boo,” but as the princess-to-be herself put it, it’s nice to have a gown that’s “bippity boppity bougie.”
TICKETS AND DETAILS
Cinderella by Resonance Works runs through October 29 at The Studio at Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie. For tickets, visit email@example.com or call 412-501-3330.