Walnut Street Theatre (WST) continues its 214th season with one of most beloved stories of all time, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, a timeless, enchanting story of love and hope. This imaginative and spectacular Walnut production is a delightful holiday season treat for the entire family. And not to worry, you’ll be home long before the stroke of midnight! Cinderella begins previews on November 22, opens November 30th, and – just announced – is extended through December 31, 2022. The production is directed by Glenn Casale and choreographed by Gerry McIntyre.
Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s Cinderella was originally written for television and premiered in 1957. It is based on the French version of the fairy tale Cendrillon, ou la petite pantoufle de verre by Charles Perrault and is the only musical Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote for television that was later adapted for the stage. This enchanting new Broadway adaptation features a lighthearted and romantic new book by Douglas Carter Beane (Sister Act) and includes Rodgers & Hammerstein’s classics like “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible/It’s Possible,” and “Ten Minutes Ago.”
The Walnut’s production will feature a cast of 22 performers and a live orchestra. Glenn Casale, who directed the Walnut’s record-breaking 2021 production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, returns to direct. Casale directed the 2012 Dutch production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the national tour, and several regional productions in the States. His work also includes the 1999 Broadway revival of Peter Pan, which received a Tony nomination for Best Revival of a Musical, as well as the National Tour of Peter Pan and its A&E television production. He also directed The Property Known as Garland and Dragapella! at Studio 54, which was nominated for a Drama Desk and two Lucille Lortel Awards. Chris Burcheri returns as Music Director, having just completed Rocky, the Musical, and Gerry McIntyre makes his WST debut as choreographer. During the 2021-2022 season, Burcheri took the podium as music director for Beehive, The Little Mermaid, and Always…Patsy Cline. He has also served as music director for the WST for Kids series and the associate conductor on Annie and Holiday Inn. McIntyre is the Associate Artistic Director of the York Theatre in NYC and has choreographed Ain’t Misbehavin’, Anything Can Happen in The Theatre,in addition to Side by Side, Tommy and My Fair Lady at the Berkshire Theatre Festival; andLaura Comstock’s Bag-Punching Dog, and Color Purple at Broadway Sacramento and The Wiz.
Making her return to Walnut Street Theatre and bringing the role of Cinderella (Ella) to life is Kathryn Brunner. Brunner’s development as a performer started with classes at the Theatre School at the Walnut. Her first professional credits her were here as well. Brunner was last seen on the Walnut stage as Elle in Legally Blonde. Other theatre credits include Sophie in Mamma Mia! (Pioneer Theatre), Val in A Chorus Line (Penn Shakespeare Festival), and Mary Phagan in Parade (Arden Theatre Co). Making his Walnut debut as the charming Prince Topher is Canadian Brent Thiessen. This is Theissen’s second time to Philadelphia, as only just this year he was here in January while touring with the Broadway musical Pretty Woman. Rebecca Robbins is a WST veteran and returns as the compassionate Fairy Godmother, Marie. Robbins has been seen in Rocky (Gloria), Always…Patsy Cline (Louise), The Little Mermaid (Ursula), Legally Blonde (Paulette), Souvenir (FlorenceFoster Jenkins), and Mary Poppins (Mrs. Banks).
Returning as Lord Pinkleton and Sebastian, the aids to Prince Topher, are Walnut regulars Ben Dibble and Fran Prisco. Ben Dibble (who has performed in over 26 productions at the Walnut) was last seen on stage in Rocky, the Musical and has been in the Walnut productions of Young Frankenstein (Frederick Frankenstein), The Little Mermaid (Chef Louis), Shrek (Lord Farquaad), to name a few. Fran Prisco is celebrating over 22 years of productions at the Walnut, starting with Singin’ in the Rain in 2000. Other credits include Rocky, the Musical (Paulie), Young Frankenstein (Kemp/Hermit), and South Pacific (Hula’d Billis). Returning as the callous stepmother, Madame, is Mary Martello. Martello is another Walnut regular with over 30 WST productions including Blithe Spirit, Young Frankenstein, Annie, 9 to 5, and Memphis. Playing Ella’s stepsisters, Gabrielle and Charlotte, are Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters and Amanda Jill Robinson. Walters is an award-winning playwright who works are also performed at many theatres. Robinson’s Walnut credits include Blithe Spirit, The Gifts of the Magi, Winter Wonderettes, and A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Returning to the Walnut as the firebrand Jean-Michel is Adam Hoyak. Audiences will recognize Hoyak as one of the electrifying eels in the WST production of The Little Mermaid. Hoyak’s other credits include Shrek and Matilda (WST), Honk! (Delaware Theatre Co.), Cabaret and Triumph of Love (Bristol Riverside), and Ragtime, Rock of Ages, and John & Jen (The Eagle Theatre).
Returning to the Walnut to form an ensemble of villagers, knights, ball guests, and more are Rachel Beiswenger (The Little Mermaid, The Wizard of Oz), Kristine Fraelich (Elf), Alexandra Frohlinger (The Little Mermaid) who doubles as the production’s Dance Captain, Jesse Jones (Rocky, The Little Mermaid), Bonnie Kelly (Rocky, The Little Mermaid), Kevin Kulp (Flounder in The Little Mermaid, Matilda), Adam Mandala (Rocky, The Little Mermaid), Audrey Biehl Simmons (Shrek, Young Frankenstein), and Devon Sinclair (The Little Mermaid). The Walnut welcomes Phoebe Gavula, Christina Emily Jackson, Zummy Mohammed, and Jon Yepez as they make their WST debuts in the ensemble.
Scenic Designer Robert Kovach (The Little Mermaid, Shrek, Young Frankenstein) makes his WST return to capture the enchantment of a fairytale Kingdom. Kovach will be joined by returning Lighting Designer David Neville (The Wizard of Oz) and Sound Designer Ed Chapman (Rocky, The Little Mermaid, Shrek). Costume Designer Mary Folino (Rocky, The Little Mermaid, Beehive) will be ensuring everyone onstage, including Ella, looks exquisite for the Ball.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA begins November 22 and is now extended through December 31, 2022. Open captioning will be available for the Sunday, December 11, 7pm performance. This production is sponsored by Fox Rothschild and Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant. Media Sponsors are 6ABC, Metro Philadelphia, and Philadelphia Inquirer. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.com.