Cinderella gets a soul makeover

More than 70 kids have brought back Motown music, and brought it back respectfully, in "Cinderella - A Love Story with the Sound of Motown" at Seattle Repertory Theatre.

The Sunday, Aug. 19, afternoon dress rehearsal put on by Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center surprised and entertained an audience of family members and friends. From the ultimate '60s outfits - shiny white, knee-high leather boots included - to the voices that emanated from the youth in the play, the show goes beyond unique to become enchanting for the audience.

"It's a really different experience," said Jordon Bolden, who plays the character Buttons, best friend to Cinders, the Motown Cinderella. "Most times you come to a performance, you kind of know what might happen or you have a feel for what might happen. Here, it's totally different. Everything is off-the-wall different.

"If you want to see youth in a production being professional, and see what young kids can do and how they use their whole entire summer to do a production like this, that's what this is."

After 10 weeks of rehearsing and learning about the arts through the 11th annual Teen Summer Musical Program, this group should give the audience a show to remember.

The musical jump-starts with the song "Calling Out Around the World," giving a quick hint of how the rest of the show will sound. It's "smashin'," to take a word from Buttons.

"We can't wait until opening day, especially opening night - we'll have all the little kinks out of the way," said director Isiah Anderson Jr. "The kids will be that much more confident on stage and with the audience; it'll be wonderful.

"There's really nothing else to say other than the fact that they are just a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful group of young people who really want to do well and, given the opportunity, they shine. That's what they're gonna do."

During the dress rehearsal the kids showcased their talents. Wearing big hair, hoop dresses covered in bubblegum-pink swirls and topped by oversize attitudes, the ugly stepsisters brought a new element to their characters which kept the audience on the edge of their seats laughing. Then it's taken to a higher comic level by the wicked stepmother, dressed in leopard-print stretch pants and sporting even bigger hair than her daughters.

As Bolden said, "The cast is great."

With songs intertwined in this Motown version of Cinderella, like "Freedom" and "Let's Do the Twist," the show avoids convention to find its own unique groove.

"What people should definitely come and witness is young people enjoying history. This show showcases all the Motown music - the history of where real good music came from," Anderson said. "These young people are enjoying it so much, they're realizing that this music had more meaning to it, more soul and more feeling."

From the music that Anderson said the audience can appreciate and a cast wearing orange, pink and green flowing outfits, the trip back in time contains a storyline of friendship and true love that all audience members should relate to.

"This show is unique because all the music is different this year," Bolden said. "All the songs kind of take you on a rollercoaster because of the upsetting songs, love songs and sad songs."

But no matter the type of song, the production accomplishes more than a good reinvention of the classic fairy tale.

"I think the rest of the community should know - and I express this deeply - that we have 70-plus young people here that are so committed to doing something positive," Anderson stressed. "So to me, it's important for other people to see this, so they know that these young people want to do better. They have the opportunity to do it, so they do it."

"Cinderella-A Love Story with the Sound of Motown" is playing through Sunday, Aug. 26, at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St. Call 443-2222 for show time and ticket information.

Jessica Van Gilder may be reached via

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