The upcoming national tour of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Cinderella, will have some competition in New York state in 2001, when New York State Theatre Institute sends out its unique musical version of the Grimm fairy tale.
The nonprofit Troy, NY, company devoted to new works for family audiences will make magic March-May 2001, when A Tale of Cinderella goes on a New York state tour (including a Manhattan stop). NYSTI producing director Patricia Di Benedetto Snyder told Playbill On Line it is hoped that the 2001 mini-tour attracts interest from producers or presenters who might partner for a wider national tour.
NYSTI's A Tale of Cinderella, first seen in Troy, NY, in 1994, will begin a spring tour in 2001 at Proctor's Theatre in Schenectady, where the show played an engagement in 1997.
A Tale of Cinderella has music by newcomer Will Severin and music and lyrics by George David Weiss. The latter wrote "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," "What a Wonderful World," "Can't Help Falling in Love With You" and contributed to Broadway's Mr. Wonderful. The libretto is by novelist W.A. Frankonis and is an "Italianate version" of the classic tale; the setting is Venice.
A Warner Music Group grant provided seed money for A Tale in 1994, and the collaborators were handpicked by Snyder and representatives of Warner. The $500,000 from Warner was to encourage new works for family audiences, which is the mission of the 25-year-old NYSTI. A Tale of Cinderella was revived in 1995 and a cast album was recorded (it's on the Atlantic Theatre label) and a video production was shot (it's on Warner Home Video). The video has been licensed to PBS stations and has been aired an estimated 300 times in 107 U.S. markets.
The original cast is expected to be aboard in spring 2001. Cinderella was played by Christianne Tisdale (Beauty and the Beast), the Prince by Sean Frank Sullivan and "Godmama" by Lorraine Serabian (a Tony Award nominee for Zorba).
The show was originally -- and continues to be -- produced and directed by Snyder, the founding producing artistic director of the company. The troupe was created by the New York State Legislature in 1974-75 and was operational by 1976.
The tour is the company's way to raise visibility and celebrate the 25th anniversary.
"There's an incredible need to develop quality work," said Snyder. "Kids grow up knowing about football, soccer andbasketball, but they don't know about theatre because they're not exposed to theatre on the same scale."
Productions of A Tale of Cinderella have been licensed in Australia and Italy, and the show will be available to stock and amateur groups after the tour possibilities are exhausted.
A Tale of Cinderella has confirmed bookings for Proctor's Theatre in Schenectady, March 18-26, 2001; Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, April 22-29, 2001; a concert version May 6-13 at Snug Harbor Cultural Center; Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse in Manhattan, May 13-20; Syracuse Civic Center, May 20-27, 2001. More April dates elsewhere are expected.
-- By Kenneth Jones