Best Bets: ‘Cinderella’ enchants at Caesar Rodney High

From left, Ellie Blaier is Cinderella and Tre Myers is Prince Charming in Caesar Rodney High School’s production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Cinderella.” (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

The curtain will literally be closing for Caesar Rodney High School senior Ellie Blaier next week as she stars as the title character in the school’s telling of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Cinderella.”

The show will mark the fourth year in a row that she has had the female lead in a Caesar Rodney High School Stage Crew and Thespians’ production.

In her freshman year, she played Laurey in “Oklahoma;” she was then Marian the librarian in “The Music Man; followed by Maria in “The Sound of Music.”

“I’m going to college for musical theater so I’m hoping to continue doing this through college and then for my career. It’s been the best part of my high school experience by far, doing these shows,” she said during rehearsals this week.

John Muller, the show’s assistant director and head of the school’s drama department, said Ms. Blaier has been an invaluable part of the program.

“She’s been part of the heart and soul of our program,” he said. “We are going to miss her for sure. She’s so talented and has a great voice.”

In this year’s show, Ms. Blaier plays the familiar character who is forced into a life of servitude by her cruel stepmother and self-centered stepsisters, who dreams of a better life. With the help of her Fairy Godmother, Cinderella is transformed into a princess and finds her Prince Charming.

The show is based on the 1957 television production starring Julie Andrews. It’s been remade twice for television with Lesley Ann Warren and Brandy Norwood in the title roles.

Another version of the show debuted on the Broadway stage in 2013.

From left, Elyse Roscoe is the wicked stepmother, Fiona Mitchell (Joy) and Michaela Tucci (Portia) are the wicked stepsisters while while Ellie Blaier plays Cinderella.

Out of the four musicals she’s done at Caesar Rodney, Ms. Blaier says this has been her favorite.

“It’s just such a different vibe. Since it’s a fairy tale, it’s so fun to add in those elements with magic and everything. With the other shows that I’ve done, they’re more realistic. But this one you get to add on the special effects and stuff and that’s been really fun to work out,” she said.

“The fairy godmother transforms my dress and she brings up the horses and the coach and everything. There are a lot of lights and pyrotechnics that go into that. So it’s been pretty exciting.”

She said the way she plays Cinderella has been a lot more fanciful than other characters she has portrayed over the years.

“It’s been very interesting because when I usually do my characters, they are usually a lot more straight. They just have more realistic personalities. But with Cinderella I have to higher her voice. I’m very classic Disney princess. It’s an over-exaggeration of all of the good things that someone could possibly be. I just have to be insanely sweet in this,” she said.

Tre Myers (Prince Charming) asked Lucas Paret (Herald) to try the slipper on every girl in the lingdom before the sun rises. From left, Lucas Paret (Herald), Tre Myers (Prince Charming), Michael Sell (King) and Hannah Garey (Queen).

While she gets to be sweet, Elyse Roscoe has to be the Evil Stepmother.

“It’s been the hardest character I’ve ever had to portray,” said Ms. Roscoe, also a senior who has been in Caesar Rodney musicals all of her four years.

“I’ve never played the antagonist of the show. I’ve always been the motherly type, the foundational character. But I’ve been figuring out what makes a character evil and what are the motivations behind it. People aren’t just evil. There’s a contrast because she’s not super mean to her daughters. She’s irritated with her daughters because her daughters are dumb.

“Cinderella was closer to her father and more attractive than she is and Cinderella is younger than she is. Cinderella is kind of the epitome of what she wants and what she can’t have. So yeah, she’s very jealous of Cinderella.”

Although this is a classic tale that has been portrayed in versions such as a Disney cartoon, the actors in the show have been hard at work finding the perfect way to play their parts.

From left, Michael Sell (King), Hannah Garey (Queen), dancer Alayna Gumpman and ensemble member Kaden Childs perform a musical number for Caesar Rodney High School’s Stage Crew and Thespians’ production of the musical “Cinderella.” (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

“There was more pressure this year with more characterization. Because with this year’s script, the characterizations come from us,” said senior Izabela Marasco, who plays the Fairy Godmother.

“It’s not written in the script as much. Like last year (with “The Sound of Music”), everything was kind of laid out in the lines. Whereas this year, we have to figure it out for ourselves because the lines aren’t that straightforward. That’s been a fun challenge.”

While all three actors have had experience throughout their high school careers, this is the first Caesar Rodney show for senior Tre Myers, who plays Prince Charming.

From left, Elyse Blaier (Cinderella), Elyse Roscoe (Stepmother), Fiona Mitchell (Joy) and Michaela Tucci (Portia).

A four-year athlete on the school’s football team and three-year wrestler, Mr. Myers decided to forgo his senior year as a wrestler to join the show’s cast.

He did some acting at Clear Space Theater in Rehoboth Beach in elementary school but in middle and high school, sports was more his thing — until now.

“I played football this year. And then football season ended. And the past three years I’ve wrestled and I just decided that it wasn’t for me and I decided to give the musical a shot,” he said.

“So I’m pretty new to this and I’m learning a lot. I’m having a great time, and it’s been a blast so far. This is the best part of my day. After school ends at 2:30, we get out and then I get to be somebody else and live the life of someone else for an hour or two. And it’s a pretty cool experience. I’m glad I’m doing it.”

He says his more experienced leading lady has been helping him along the way.

“She’s just knows so much about this. And not just in the singing, but just the acting and the delivery of the lines and things I wouldn’t even think about, as far as being on stage and really acting,” Mr. Myers said.

Although there are no musical hits that came from the show, the actors say the songs have been a joy to sing while also a bit challenging.

“I don’t think it’s the hardest production where I’ve had to sing in terms of my part,” said Ms. Blaier.

“But I think the tempo and a lot of the wording is a lot faster. So that part’s been hard. Having just people understand what you’re saying. There are a lot of important words you have to get in and that’s been the hardest part.”

“I think some of the melodies and harmonies and the songs themselves are really pretty and well-written,” Mr. Myers added.

For Ms. Roscoe and Ms. Marasco, saying goodbye to the Caesar Rodney stage will be a bittersweet experience.

“I’m excited for things to come. But, this has definitely been a huge part of my life and a stepping stone for the future,” said Ms. Roscoe, who is looking to major in music education and choral conducting in college.

Everyone is looking to go out on a high note.

“At the end of the show, all of the lead actors are all singing in a line. and most of us are seniors who have been together for all four years. So I think when we all sing that last note, it’s going to be emotional for all of us,” Ms. Marasco said.

The show, directed by Keith McCarthy with musical direction by DuWane Sandlin opens Thursday at 7 p.m. and continues March 6 at 7 p.m. and March 7 at 6 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $10. Caesar Rodney High School is at 239 Old North Road in Camden.

Leap year pirate festival

The Kent County Public Library, located at 497 S. Red Haven Lane, Dover, will host a special “leap year” pirate festival on Saturday from 1:15 to 4:30 p.m.

Visitors are invited to dress up in their bonny-best pirate gear for a pirate costume contest, along with the opportunity to meet Grace O’Malley, the real-life Irish pirate queen who stared down Queen Elizabeth I of England (portrayed by award-winning actress and Smithsonian scholar, Mary Ann Jung), watch a sword fighting demonstration, take a selfie with a sea monster, and enjoy live music from Celtic Harvest.

There will also be crafts and activities for the kids. Face painting will be available for a small fee. The event is free and open to the public; however, seating for all events is limited. Family-friendly costumes only please.

Tribute to the Drifters

Modern Maturity Center on Del. 8 in Dover hosts its annual Doo Wop Dinner Concert Saturday. This year’s event features a tribute to The Drifters.

Cost is $45 per person for dinner and the show. Dinner is at 6 p.m., show begins at 7:15 p.m.

All proceeds benefit Modern Maturity Center programs for older adults. For more information or tickets call 734-1200, ext 167.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the remake of the horror-thriller “The Invisible Man.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday are “Queen and Slim” and “Dark Waters.”