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Cinderella and the Substitute Fairy Godmother at DCP Theatre

A review by: Michael Romito

In his biography, Ed Monk claims to have a perfect family and a mother who likes everything he writes. I may not share his mother’s opinion on all his works, but Cinderella and the Substitute Fairy Godmother is a show with something everyone can like, made perfect by the most talented and creative team rarely seen in community theater.

One expects the title characters to be a driving force in any show and Nivia Lima as Cinderella and Teri Maxwell as the Substitute Fairy Godmother do not disappoint. They are perfectly suited to their roles. They shine as the imperfect heroines of the show, but they are not the only stars in this production.

Nivia Lima (Cinderella), Teri Maxwell (Lucretia Fossilwart),

Bria McCarthy (The Royal Messenger) has a comedic presence and timing rarely seen in one so young. She commands the stage from her first appearance in the preshow, to her arrival at the home of Cinderella, and her authoritative presence at the castle. I look forward to seeing more of this talented young lady.

Bella McManus (Fabio),Nivia Lima (Cinderella) Bria McCarthy (The Royal Messenger)

The interplay of words and actions between Riley Mann (King Vladimir), Pockets Seachrist (Queen

Shania) and Nicholas Gahman (Prince Charmful), are such a joy to watch that they make you believe they are the perfectly imperfect royal family they portray. Nicholas also delights as he seeks to find the perfect mate among the perfectly imperfect princesses at the ball.

Riley Mann (King Vladimir), Pockets Seachrist (Queen Shania),

Cinderella’s stepfamily is the perfect counterpoint to the royal family. Marianne Dell’Aquila (Febreze) is deliciously evil as the stepmother. Bella McManus (Fabio) is as believably pompous as her sister Ava McManus (Alberta) is believably naïve and both convincingly portray their mental inadequacy when compared to their most sensible stepsister.

Ava McManus (Alberta),Marianne Dell’Aquila (Febreze), Bella McManus (Fabio),

As a family theater production, you will find several families listed in the program – Algeo, Dell’Aquila, Lima, Mann, Neuenschwander, Spigel, but there are also many family members of the cast and crew not listed in the program who have helped with this production. Many nameless family members worked together to create a remarkable lobby experience, including show-themed concessions and a fairy tale “photo booth” where patrons are encouraged to not only provide a remembrance to share with their own families, but share with the DCP family on our Instagram page. Family members will also warmly greet you and serve you.

Two families deserve special recognition without whom this production would not have achieved its

perfection. One is the Spigel family. You would have to go back many years to find a family theater production not produced by Jane Spigel. And when Jane produces a show, she has the total commitment and involvement of her entire family. As head of the Family Theater Playreading

Committee, Jane was instrumental in recommending this play.

The other family deserving of special recognition is the Algeo family. Director, Bill Algeo, has not only chosen one of the most talented casts ever, but has been able to provide them with the tools to properly showcase those talents. How else can actors, especially young ones, know how to tell a ridiculous tale with the best timing, intonation, movement, and everything else needed to bring the playwright’s humor to the right level of hilarity and make the unbelievable believable? Especially notable is the way Bill presents his actors on the stage, making each movement, look, and even the pauses, serve the play perfectly. Subtle nuances, like the introduction of the play towards the mention of Queen Shania followed by the opening notes of Shania Twain’s Man! I Feel Like a Woman, finding Pinocchio’s perfect puppet voice in Quinn Calafati, and having Helen Spigel make her curtain call covered in seaweed as a reminder of Noxima’s tragic fate at the ball are just a few examples of Bill’s genius.

Bill’s extremely talented wife, Colleen, has created a remarkably amazing set. Colleen has brought her artistic talents to many sets over the years, but this time Colleen has taken total control by designing the set as well. Each element of the set from the fairy godmothers’ office to Cinderella’s cottage to the royal ballroom is perfect and has been designed to move seemingly effortlessly, making the set changes manageably quick.

Xavier Hicks,( Maurice), Braden Dell'Aquila (Wassabi), Avianna McCarthy (Wembly) , Teri Maxwell (Lucretia), Nivia Lima (Cinderella)

Bill and Colleen’s equally talented daughter, Madison Hart, serves double duty as costumer and

choreographer. Jane Levy has noted that, “Costume is a huge part of getting into character. Your body soaks in what you’re wearing, and you turn into someone else.” Having worn my share of costumes myself, I can agree that clothes do make the man, or the pig or the wolf, or the godmother… (You get the idea.) and Madison has dressed this cast, dare I say it, perfectly. As choreographer, Madison has taught her actors well and has provided additional humor with the ballroom dances, including the wedding staple Chicken Dance and the Cotton Eye Joe line dance.

I should stop at a dozen uses of the word perfect or perfectly. So, if you want to spend a wonderful 90 minutes of remarkable entertainment sure to make you laugh, lift your spirits, and brighten your day come see this perfect show. (I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help myself. Let’s call it a baker’s dozen.)

Cinderella and the Substitute Fairy Godmother plays one more weekend July 21-22, Friday at 8:00pm, Saturday at 1:00pm & 4:00 pm

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