Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cinderella at Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theater

It's almost shocking to me--SHOCKING!--that Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella is so little known. I saw the 1965 movie starring Lesley Ann Warren and ultra-handsome Stuart Damon on TV when I was a kid and loved it. I think I only got to see it once or twice, but one of those times I tape-recorded it (yes, on cassette tape) so I got to listen to the music repeatedly. Why this movie wasn't in more frequent rotation is a mystery to me, because it's got great music and lyrics and wonderful comedic twists to make it more entertaining than sappy. Just check out this clip of the stepsisters on YouTube! (This movie was remade with Whitney Houston and Brandy in 1997, but I never saw that one.)

I got to relive this childhood memory yesterday with my nearly 4-year-old friend and princess-lover Isla yesterday (and her mom!) at Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theater. Like the Kitsap Forest Theater, it's a tiny outdoor amphitheater--which stayed a perfectly comfortable temperature on a sweltering day yesterday. It has a nice intimate feel, and holds only about 275 people. This is great for kids since it's not as overwhelming as a large theater can be, and the actors can interact with the audience. When the prince and his pages were looking for the owner of the glass slipper, they tried it on some audience members before they found Cinderella's home!

I loved the updated stepsister banter and the perfectly lovely Cinderella, played by Justine Stillwell. The fairy godmother is played by Buddy Todd in drag, who I also loved, but at least one little girl found it confusing. She yelled, "That's a clown!" during his performance--and I could certainly see her point. This godmother had overly rouged cheeks, pink hair, and spoke like a Jewish grandmother. I'm not sure if it's part of the original script, but this godmother encourages Cinderella to make "impossible" things happen for herself. It's a small way to update the girl-needing-rescuing theme, but I like it.

All in all, I think this an ideal production to bring very young children to, even though it's a long time for them to sit still. Cinderella and the prince came out after the performance so you could get your picture with them, and there's a play structure conveniently located at the top of the path to the theater, so kids can burn off pent-up energy. Cushions and bug spray are available for patrons, but if you have a high-quality stadium cushion of your own, I recommend bringing it. Isla found the bathrooms kind of scary: The stalls have curtains rather than doors, but there are flush toilets and real sinks.

This little theater is quite similar to the Kitsap Forest Theater, but it's much more convenient to Seattle. The path to the theater through the woods is much shorter, the hike to the waterfall view is a tiny 100 yards as opposed to the strenuous hike to the giant tree in Kitsap. Overall, it feels much more cozy. There's a covered area with large picnic tables where dinner is served by reservation only: salmon, steak, chicken, vegetarian lasagna, hot dogs, salad bar, etc. We didn't eat there, but it smelled great.

Anyway, Cinderella's playing through August 26, Saturdays at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for students and seniors. Kids under 5 are free! Don't miss the fleeting season for outdoor theater!

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