The phrase "Cinderella story" is used to describe a meteoric rise from humble beginnings to fame and fortune. The Alliance Theatre is putting a new kind of Cinderella story onstage – one that subverts its fairy tale origins for today's children.
"Cinderella and Fella" is billed as being "more high-tops than glass slipper" and is fueled by a different kind of magic.
“When [director] Rosemary Newcott came to me and said ‘what would you think about a Cinderella?’ I had really strong ideas,"playwright and songwriter Janece Shaffer recounts. "It was really important to me that the prize was not a boy. It was really important to me that the step-family be not a bunch of mean women.”
“Growing up I always felt like magic eluded me,” she says. “I didn’t have a fairy godmother, I didn’t have an Indian in the cupboard … And I wanted to create a story where the magic would be accessible to everybody and the magic is everything you would find in your own backyard. It’s stinkbugs and the smell of magnolias.”
The story revolves around a young prince (the “Fella” referenced in the title) who has been kept indoors all his life, meeting the outdoorsy and independent Cinderella and seeing the world for the first time.
“Ours is not a love story, ours is a story about friendship,” Shaffer says. “When you have a friend, you can do bigger and bolder things than you ever imagined for yourself. There’s not the same kind of romantic element. Our Cinderella and Fella are younger and their happy ending is they finally have a friend that believes in them.”
“Cinderella and Fella” is onstage at the Alliance Theatre through April 9.