Naima Dawson is a published author, Chicago playwright, and professor. Her career accomplishments cover more than 20 years in Arts Entertainment. Her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago and her Master of Education from DePaul University solidifies her ability to bridge the two worlds between Arts and Education. She is the writer and producer of Your Call! Late Night Improv & Sketch Comedy for Grown Folks, as seen in production at the Apollo Theater and The Mercury Theater.
Ensemble of THE OTHER CINDERELLA. Photo by Michael Courier.
Only Jackie Taylor can remix a classic like Cinderella. THE OTHER CINDERELLA, written by Taylor and directed by Taylor and Rueben Echoles is a masterful spin on the timeless fairy tale we all know, just funnier and a lot more interactive. Since its inception at Black Ensemble in the 70s, THE OTHER CINDERELLA has become a family favorite.
Thirty-five years ago, my aunt introduced me to theater with the magnificent world of THE OTHER CINDERELLA. Every time this play returns to the Black Ensemble Theater, it always presents a new audience experience that’s filled with laughter and family fun. Jackie Taylor has masterfully re-birthed her own classic, and it is beyond hilarious. I went with my mother knowing it would be a great experience, but we got so much more. I thought they would have to resuscitate us a few times from side-splitting laughter. This high-energy cast is amazingly funny and brought the house down. This play is a Jackie Taylor 70’s classic, but she keeps the production fresh and entertaining. Taylor adds music relevant to both the young and old generation, while incorporating her original songs. She even found a way to address the current climate, as she uniquely addresses breaking stereotypes, while keeping it light and funny.
Much praise must be given to Rhonda Preston, who played the Stepmother. Preston knows how to work an audience. She kept us in complete laughter with her songs and off the wall antics. She is gut busting funny. The same applies for the Stepsisters, (Melanie McCullough) and (Miciah Long), who is as animated and energetic as they come. I have no idea how they all move around the stage in such a frenzy and never run out of breath, amid singing and dancing. Hats off to the step-family cast. The royal Queen (Shari Addison,) almost took the crowd to church and back with her flawless vocals. Addison is a powerhouse singer, who effortlessly evokes goosebumps with each note. She is a vocal wonder woman. The Page, played by Kyle Smith was a fireball of energy, whose comedic timing was a perfect balance for the young and old.
The charismatic performance and singing of Cinderella (Jessica Seals) is a charming delight. Seals brings such a fairy tale element in her performance that’s so fitting to the setting. The Prince (Mark JP Hood), best known as a competitor on the NBC TV show THE VOICE, gave the audience pitch perfect vocals paired with an uproarious performance that is filled with memorable moments. His natural flair for comedy made for great pairing between him and Kyle Smith. Hood embellished every idea of a fairy tale Prince with each song he performed. It was great to watch him as he patiently provided each fan with a photo to remember after the show. This cast was perfection in motion.
THE OTHER CINDERELLA is a holiday favorite that will not disappoint. Director Echoles and Taylor should be proud of a job well done. Enjoy endless laughs, good music, and a cast that is perfection in motion from the cast of THE OTHER CINDERELLA. It is playing through January 8, 2017.