Opera Workshop production to tell alternate Cinderella tale

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April 6, 2018

Most everyone knows the classic rags to riches tale of “Cinderella,” told from the heroine’s point of view.

But what if the narrative changed, and the story was told from the family’s standpoint? What happens if Cinderella is a hellion who is a nasty individual to her sisters, and the prince is a sad-sack, dim-witted person?

That’s the gist of “Meanwhile, Back at Cinderella’s”, the latest production of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University Opera Workshop.

The play will be presented April 12-15 at the Colman Black Box Theater, Benedicta Arts Center, CSB. Show times are at 7:30 p.m. April 12-13, and 2 p.m. April 14-15. A suggested $2 donation will be collected at the door.

The comedic spoof of the Cinderella story premiered in 1976 at the New York Lyric Opera Company. Composer, pianist and cantor Dennis Arlan and lyricist and operatic tenor James Billings composed “Meanwhile, Back at Cinderella’s” in 1971. The tandem of Arlan and Billings would go on to produce two more children’s operas: “The Ballad of the Bremen Band” and “The Daughter of the Double Duke of Dingle.”

“Meanwhile, Back at Cinderella’s” runs approximately 70 minutes, and is told in four scenes: The Nabgratz home, a hall off the Palace ballroom; a road back to the Nabgratz home; and back at the Nabgratz home.

Tom Speckhard, instructor of opera at CSB and SJU, is the director of the play. Carolyn Finley, professor of voice and opera at CSB and SJU, is the music director and pianist.

Two for the price of one

The cast has been enlarged as several characters will be portrayed by two different actors. They include the character Filbert Nabgratz (played by Matt Kiminski April 12 and April 14 and Steven Bezdichek Pfahning April 13 and April 15), Cinderella Nabgratz (played by Johanna Dykhoff April 12 and April 14 and Nora Merk April 13 and April 15) and the Fairy Godfather (played by Andrew Noah April 12 and April 14 and Tom Richmond (April 13 and April 15).

“We had several singers who auditioned who were deserving of a role, so we double-cast a few characters to give them an opportunity to build their performance résumés before they graduate,” Finley said.

Other characters in the opera include the narrator (Emily Dosch), Ariadne Nabrgratz (Alli Meinecke), Daphne Nabgratz (Mary Lara), Harold the Herald (Cody Ewald) and Prince Dimmly (Jack Cassidy). There will also be a “mystery performer” who will voice the role of Almondine Nabgratz off-stage.

The CSB/SJU Opera Workshop performs an annual opera fully costumed with sets each year. It provides an opportunity for students to give in-depth study, practice and presentation of classical and contemporary works of opera and musical theater.

“Many of our vocal performance majors and choral education students participate to gain valuable stage experience to help them grow as performers,” Finley said. “Plus, we have many talented non-majors who miss performing in high school, and they are brave enough to try an ensemble titled ‘opera workshop.’ “

Participation is by audition only. Enrolled students can receive up to two credits.