Cinderella's Art Deco Splendour
by Simone Olivero
July 7, 2020

James Kudelka’s Cinderella delves into a world of insiders and outsiders creating a fresh interpretation of the classic rags to riches love story. Set in the decadence of 1920’s Art Deco, Kudelka worked closely with set and costume designer David Boechler to create two opposing worlds where an improbable pair of opposites navigate their way into each other’s hearts under the most unlikely of circumstances.

Living in the height of the Jazz Age, the Prince’s world invites viewers to feast their eyes. Inspired by the glittery extravagance of films like The Great Gatsby, The Cat’s Meow and Some Like it Hot, these scenes reflect the interwar period where industrialization and technology created a society of glamour and exuberance.

Powerful women who are modeled after famous film stars of the era like Clara Bow, Myrna Loy, Louise Brooks, Ruby Keeler and Cyd Charisse flaunt across the stage not simply looking for attention but demanding it. There’s no mistaking that the women are the stars of this party, dressed to impress in Erté-inspired drop waisted flapper dresses that glitter amidst piles of heavy jewels, gem-encrusted hairpieces and dark, bold makeup.

Breaking away from this, Cinderella lives in a world of pre-industrialized nostalgia. Far from the city, her days are spent toiling away in her country kitchen, picking the fruits of her labour from the bucolic garden. Dressed in a neutral palette of beige and brown, she blends seamlessly into the setting, unadorned and without any concern for fashion with her bare feet planted firmly on the ground.

The only hint of the outside world comes through her social climbing step sisters who chaotically whirl through the space dressed in a colourful mash up of patterns that clash against the calm of provincial life. Bored by the country, they ache for the pulsating energy of the city. It is not until the Prince announces that he will be hosting a ball that these two worlds collide.

The ball represents a remarkable moment where Cinderella undergoes a major transformation (with the help of her Fairy Godmother). Lifted off the ground in a jeweled pumpkin, her previously uncovered feet are fitted with a sparkling pair of Swarovski crystal encrusted pointe shoes while a silk cape lined with fur covers her shoulders. Dressed like this, she meets the Prince and they fall in love but it is over in an instant and as the evening abruptly ends, they both return to their worlds with only a single sparkly shoe each to show for it.

In the final Act, the Prince scours the globe with only the glittering shoe as his guide. Almost ready to give up, he discovers that Cinderella has been hiding in plain sight, in his own backyard. Rather than bringing her back with him into the bright lights of the city, they opt to settle in the country and have a simple garden wedding surrounded by the rhubarb, beets, onions and insects. Instead of tails, men dress in loose fitting summer suits with fedoras while the women trade in their glitter for flowy pastel summer dresses topped with coquettish cloche hats.

Cinderella is onstage March 11 – 20, 2021.


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