This is totally charming! And with a cast that features personal favorite Christine Ebersole as well as Julie Halston, Tony Sheldon and a slew of similarly singular talents, Ever After is also eminently watchable. Oh and did I mention that the score by composer Zina Goldrich and lyricist Marcy Heisler is one of the more tuneful and solid I’ve heard in a while. I guess I’m a fan!
Paper Mill Playhouse is getting in the habit of doing several world premieres a season, and this new musical is based on the 1998 film starring Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Huston. It rings another change on the Cinderella story, this time taking the magic and fantasy element out of it. Instead of a fairy godmother you have Leonardo da Vinci, instead of “Prince Charming” you have a Prince Henry who resmbles a historical prince of that name (they stop short of total historical accuracy – that Henry actually married Catherine de Medici).
Happily, Ever After is a thoroughly satisfying entertainment. The score to Ever After is effortlessly in a traditional musical comedy vein, without even the slightest whiff of pastiche or nostalgia – no minor accomplishment. Ebersole is delicious as stepmother Rodmilla, playing her as more bitter than truly wicked. The creative team know what they have in Ebersole, and have given her the suitably dramatic “After All”.
Halston and Sheldon are toned down a bit from their more flamboyant performances; you won’t catch me complaining, however. If you can cast the very best, why not. Director/choreographer Kathleen Marshall has delivered a sturdy and attactive production focused squarely on storytelling. There are a couple of numbers that seem to be there strictly to serve as dance spectaculars, but they are so much energetic fun that it is hard to quibble. Recommended.
For tickets, click here.
To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see jonathanwarman.com.