“Impossible Things” Happening at Emerson


Briella Donahue, Journalist

A spotlight shines. Out comes a dove (an animal friend of Cinderella’s), and the audience’s eyes sparkle as the play begins. People of all ages: seniors, little girls in princess dresses, and everyone in between, all anticipating the magic that is Emerson’s interpretation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s version of Cinderella.

Friday, March 3rd: Opening Night for Cinderella. Each show lasted around two hours, with approximately an hour at the end of each show left for audience members to take pictures with certain cast members if they chose to do so. The pictures cost $5 and they included Cinderella, Prince Charming, and even Fairy Godmother in the photos!

Several roles were double-cast, while others remained single. Cinderella was played by Sarah Walsh and Madeline Praschil, step sisters Madison Ostroff and Diana Tamayo one night, and Alicia Gadek and Isabella Hasett another night. Billy Bolbach played Prince Charming, Sherry Hausman played the Stepmother, and Sal Calafiore played the King (one of the middle schoolers who participated in the high school production). 

While the shows lasted a typical amount of time, the number of hours that went into creating the incredible performance the audience saw each night was considerably long. Many days the cast would stay after school for hours on end, sometimes with rehearsals lasting seven hours – practically another school day! Even on the weekends, the cast would spend their time diligently working to make sure that they presented their characters to the audience in an accurate yet more exciting way to the audience.

To fully develop Cinderella as a character, I rehearsed each day for anywhere from three to nine hours,” Senior Sarah Walsh who is one of the actresses that played Cinderella said. “I had to put myself in her shoes to think about how she might react to different people, different situations, and different events. I also wanted to think about the connections between my own personality and Cinderella’s, because this would make the performance more authentic.” This dedication to the play was clear each night in not only Walsh’s performance but the cast’s entirety.

While the cast worked hard behind the scenes and on the stage, they were not the only ones who had taken part in making the play become as exciting as it was. Behind the scenes were a five-member stage crew, a two-member prop crew (from the stage crew), and a six-member lighting and sound crew who were also working diligently for many hours to make up for the small number of members participating this year. In addition, there was crew working on painting and making props seen throughout the play, along with the wonderful orchestra who played each song pleasantly to the ear and the instructors and teachers who helped the crew, orchestra, and cast.

Senior crew member Julianna Reyes commented on the pressure she felt, saying, “Since there was such a small amount of us, I definitely felt the pressure of getting everything right and all the tasks to do.”

Senior Kianna Rodriguez added, “It’s a lot of pressure, especially the fact I had to direct such a small group and do some heavy lifting myself… I didn’t realize having the least amount of crew was so difficult, we used to be 15 people when I started and now we’re so small.” Nonetheless, Rodriguez said, “It’s been such a great experience for those looking to do extra where you think you are not needed.”

None of this could have been possible without Mr. Ullman and Mrs. Ullman, the director and costume director. While Mr. Ullman and Mrs. Ullman both helped the cast with their performances, the two also had their own tasks. Mr. Ullman helped stage crew with directions and helped the cast strengthen their vocals and learn the songs. Meanwhile, Mrs. Ullman decided on costumes, made modifications, and overall added numerous details that helped the play truly come to life.

The play had officially ended on March 11th. With over 1400 people having attended over the six shows, it is clear that Cinderella became a hit! This version of Cinderella was more light-hearted and added a dash of realism, while the characters still stayed true to their personalities. 

Everyone who participated in making the show possible hoped that the audience would enjoy and take with them the true meaning behind Cinderella. Walsh touched on this by saying, “I think people should take away the idea that you should always stay true to your quirks and individualities. Even though Cinderella was not the perfect ‘princess’ figure, the prince still appreciated her for who she was and ultimately chose her as his wife.” 

Madeline Praschil who also played Cinderella spoke on a memorable part of each performance day, saying, “It’s a really amazing feeling when coming out for bows and hearing everyone applaud for you or seeing a little girl in the front row dressed as Cinderella, waving at you and grinning. Meeting all the kids after the show was definitely my favorite part, just talking to them and taking pictures made me so happy.”

While the play ended on March 11, (with a matinee and evening show), the magic that the Cinderella play has left in our “own little corner” of Emerson will be felt for years to come.