San Francisco's African-American Shakespeare Company opens its 15th season with an enchanting new production of CINDERELLA. This timeless tale is brought to whimsical, magical life just in time to celebrate the holiday season. Re-set on the bayous of Louisiana, this uplifting re-telling of the classic fairytale, directed by African-American Shakespeare Company Executive Director Sherri Young, features all of the pageantry, hilarity, and charm of the original, but with a soulful twist. CINDERELLA plays December 10 through 27 (press opening: December 11) at the African American Art & Culture Complex in San Francisco.
This heartwarming story finds Cinderella, a young, beautiful dreamer, toiling away as a lowly scullery maid for her evil stepmother and (oddly masculine) stepsisters. With the help of a fabulous Fairy Godmother who makes the magic happen, Cinderella finds her Prince Charming and learns that anything is possible, even miracles. Featuring music, songs, and a dazzling masquerade ball choreographed by Patrik Gallineaux from Cheryl Burke Dance studio, this new edition of CINDERELLA is the perfect holiday treat for the entire family.
The rags-to-riches story we know today as "Cinderella" can be traced to many stories and legends dating back to ancient China; today, some 1,500 variations of the story exist. The themes from the story appear in the folklore of many cultures, but the tale always centers around a kind but persecuted heroine who suffers at the hands of her stepfamily. In the 9th-century folk story Yeh-Shen, a stepmother and two stepsisters humiliate a hard-working girl, but when a 10-foot fish gives her food, a beautiful dress, and tiny slippers, she gains confidence. Charles Perrault's French version of the tale, which was written to entertain the 17th-century court of Louis XIV, is the basis for the Western versions of the Cinderella tale, and is the most popular version of the story. Germany's Brothers Grimm published their version, Aschenputtel, in 1812, but took a decidedly more gruesome take on the tale. Disney's 1950 classic animated film gave Perrault's tale new life, adding a supporting cast of animals and a score of catchy songs.
On-stage, CINDERELLA will feature: DelIna Brooks (Cinderella); Shatese Stewart (Fairy Godmother); Melvina Hayes (Evil Stepmother); Detroit Dunwood (Prince Charming); Martin Grizzell (Evil Stepsister); Abbie Rhone (Evil Stepsister); Frank Sparks (Father); Belinda Sullivan (Grandmother); and Jazara Metcalf (Young Cinderella).
African-American Shakespeare Company Executive Director Sherri Young helms this production of CINDERELLA. An M.F.A. graduate from the American Conservatory Theater, Young founded the African-American Shakespeare Company and has been its Executive Director since. She has directed 14 productions, produced and executed four programs for the organization, and speaks at various colleges, universities, and conferences across the nation; she hires and manages the 60 company members that perform productions throughout the Bay Area. In addition to her duties at African-American Shakespeare Company, Young is a commissioner for the City and County of San Francisco's Art Commission agency.