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StoryBook Theatre to enchant audiences with true-to-book production of Ella Enchanted

StoryBook Theatre’s production of Ella Enchanted, a charming twist on the classic Cinderella tale, is promising to take audiences on a journey that will resonate with audiences of all ages.

That story, said the production’s director Samantha Currie, was one that would be both true to the original book and provide audiences a twist on that Cinderella tale.

“I really do think it’s a sort of a wonderful—you can forget the world for an hour sitting, enjoy yourself—tale that’s funny and sad,” Currie said.

“We know the story of Cinderella, too, so I think for people that know it really well it’s kind of neat to just see it up on its feet and in front of you, and the twist that it offers.”

Ella Enchanted tells the story of Ella of Frell, who is given the “gift” of obedience by her fairy godmother. Enchanted to do whatever anyone commands her to do, she adventures to rid herself of the curse. She does this all while outwitting the classic stock of fantasy creatures: Giants, ogres, and the charming prince.

“The way that Ella is written in this particular story, she has a very modern, or a very true to her own heart feeling. She doesn’t necessarily cave to the traditions that were of the time,” Currie said.

That message, said Currie, was one that would resonate with audiences on a number of levels.

“I think because of the gifts she was given—well, it’s a curse really, to be forever obedient—how that plays into our world as children we’re raised to do as we’re told but think of how dangerous that can be as an adult, coming into the world and someone telling you how to do something,” she said.

“She seems to figure things out and navigate it quite well. But I think it’ll resonate with women, but also with men, too, knowing how far we’ve come as a human race and some of the mistakes we’re still making as far as how we treat people.”

Niña arny R. Mabugat, who is playing Ella in the production, said that the message for women about standing up for themselves was a wonderful one.

“The role of Ella has personally changed me and my perspective in life on how I have the power to stand up for myself and fight for what I truly want,” said Mabugat.

“I also think that it gives a clear message for young girls and women to not let society dictate them into what they want, or who they should be. So I hope that people will also experience, especially kids—young kids—that message from the show.”

The production runs from April 7 through April 22.

Tickets are on sale now starting at $27 for children and $32 for adults at www.storybooktheatre.org.

Not the stage production of the movie, although fun for fans of the movie

Academy Award-winning actor Anne Hathaway famously played Ella in the 2004 movie adaptation Ella Enchanted.

In a 2008 article on about.com, Hathaway was quoted as saying the movie strayed from the original source book, saying that it wouldn’t have worked as a film.

Currie said that this production really pulls from a lot of Cinderella stories that people have read or have seen, and then kept that close to the original book version.

“There’s a lot of different locations that happen in the show, and we’re moving things on and off to help the audience follow where we are going, which I think can sometimes be in theatre challenging, but also in film because you’re constantly looking for all those locations of where to go,” she said.

“So, I think that’s probably what inspired some of the twists that appear in the film that aren’t in the show because they had to make it work for them.”

Mabugat said that viewers familiar with the film would be getting some real surprises.

“I think like most musical theater shows, they don’t exactly follow everything that’s on the movie… it’s entirely different, but there are some bits to it that would remind them of the actual Ella Enchanted movie,” Mabugat said.

“We hope to bring that experience to people who are going to realize the pattern that they will see from the start, which is quite similar to the movie, and then they’re going to see some different stuff towards the end, which we hope they would notice.”

‘Miraculous’ casting and storybook set design

Mabugat said that one of the things about this production was the short rehearsal time: just three weeks, and far shorter than for similar shows of its type.

Still, she said, that the show has come together in such a wonderful way is a testament to the “extremely talented” cast that has been assembled.

Currie described the cast coming together for the production as “miraculous.”

“I think we’re sort of covering a lot of bases with beautiful storytelling, there’s music, we have some magic that happens, and we have some puppets—all these sort of cool theatre worlds are colliding in one piece,” she said.

“I’m delighted for audiences to come and join us.”

She said that the sets too would be something right out of a storybook.

“It reminds me a lot of a pop-up storybook crossed with an Emily Carr painting,” Currie said.

“Everyone collectively has worked together to create these magical concepts that the actors then get to try and take on.

Niña arny R. Mabugat is playing Ella, Alexandra Woodley as Lucinda, Amy Warren as Hattie, David Kampel as Sir Peter, Riley Galarneau as Dame Olga, Robert McDonald as Char, Hayoung Chun as Olive, Janeen Derochie as Mother, and Leah Chan and Nicole Carlson as ensemble characters.

Samantha Currie is directing, Ethan Vasquez Taylor is the musical director, Serena Lemire is the stage manager, Danielle Desmarais is the choreographer, Lorie Masur is the set designer, and Carson Walliser is the wardrobe designer.