Hilary Holbrook has worked as an actor and violinist in Chicago since graduating from Loyola in 2008. When not in the theater, Hilary enjoys knitting, antiquing, and adventures of all kinds!
(left to right) Elle Walker, Leslie Ann Sheppard, Amanda Raquel Martinez, and Aja Wiltshire. Photo by Joe Mazza.
Review: CINDERELLA AT THE THEATRE OF POTATOES at The Hypocrites
By Hilary Holbrook
I don’t think many would debate me when I say that the theater faces many challenges today. In addition to the ever-present economic struggles, there is now the added hurdle of how to make it relevant when every man, woman, child, and dog has an iPhone or any other technological device that makes the idea of seeing a play a bit of an outdated concept to some. The greatest weapon against this onslaught of iPads is the reinvestment in honest, simple storytelling, and this is where the Hypocrites excel. Their latest piece, CINDERELLA AT THE THEATRE OF POTATOES, is a fun take on the fairytale classic.
Adapted by Andra Velis Simon and based on the opera, CENDRILLION, and other compositions by Pauline Viardot-Garcia, CINDERELLA AT THE THEATRE OF POTATOES examines the classic fairytale with a few notable exceptions, mainly that there is no prince. The sisters and Cinderella instead compete for best vocal prowess, a tough bar to clear on this one because all the singers were fantastic. Amanda Raquel Martinez shines as Cinderella. Elle Walker (Mergatroid) and Aja Wiltshire (Adelind) were hysterical as the stepsisters, and their song with Joel Rodriguez (The Baron) about the proper way to sing had me in stitches. The actors are the orchestra in this production, and, while this concept has normally made me weary, here I feel it worked quite well. The balance between actor/instrument and ensemble/orchestra was good. The set, by Regina Garcia, is reminiscent of a circus, but with subtle odes to the original story (love the multi-colored, wooden spoons on the back wall.) The costumes, by Alison Siple, displayed a gorgeous combination of period style with modern accents (the sneakers were my favorite!)
I loved this show. I thought it was sweet, funny, and I loved the music. The piece, at times, runs the risk of alienating its audience with insider jokes about classical composers, the mechanics of singing, and the like. Regardless, I recommend this show for its fresh take on a classic story, with beautiful singing, and gorgeous production elements. Surely, that is something any theater patron can get behind.