Star actress from the classic fairytale, coming this month to TUTS, shares her thoughts on the Cinderella story.
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella is coming to Theatre Under the Stars from May 27-June 7, with a contemporary take on the classic tale. This lush production features an incredible orchestra and all the moments you love: the pumpkin, the glass slipper, the masked ball and more–plus some surprising new twists!
Starring as “Ella,” Audrey Cardwell has enjoyed numerous other theatrical successes, including touring nationally with “Anything Goes” and “Elf.” Regionally, she has performed with Muny, NSMT, Houston TUTS, and Dallas Summer Musicals. Audrey is a proud graduate of Penn State, where she graduated with a BFA Musical Theatre.
“I’m overjoyed to be here,” Audrey says, and opens our conversation with a request to express her “endless love to the Cinderella team, DGRW, my family and Andy.”
Now, on with the interview!
HFM: Why do you think Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters were so mean to her?
AC: I think the stepmother and stepsisters are mean to Ella because they don’t understand her. People are often frightened by what they don’t understand. The stepmother and stepsisters don’t have a lot of common ground with Ella, and I think they don’t know how to handle their differences.
However, in our version, Ella and one of her stepsisters, Gabrielle, actually develop a very sweet friendship. It’s a nice change from the original version, and Gabrielle and Ella really support one another. They share a great sisterly bond and help each other out when they need it most.
HFM: Why do you think Cinderella kept working for her cruel stepmother? Couldn’t she have just run away?
AC: I think Cinderella truly sees the best in everyone around her, and this holds true for the stepmother (Madame) as well. Cinderella’s father loved Madame, and Ella trusts that her father wouldn’t have married a terrible woman, so she hopes that one day Madame will be kind to her and treat her with respect. Cinderella is an optimist, and I think she really wants to be accepted by her step family.
HFM: In your opinion, what about the prince made Cinderella fall in love with him? Was it just his face, something he said, or something else?
AC: When Ella first meets the Prince, she describes him as “handsome, kind and generous.” Those are the attributes that most drew Ella to Prince Topher. Along with his dashing looks, he is a kind and gentle soul, just like Ella. She is so amazed that a man with such power could also have such strong morals and she deeply wishes that she could get to know him.
HFM: After Cinderella married the prince and moved into the castle, what do you think happened to her stepmother and stepsisters? Did she use her royal power to punish them, or did she forgive them? What would you do?
AC: In our production, Ella and Madame share a moment face to face after Madame has found out that Ella will be married to the Prince. There is a resolution there, I don’t want to tell what it is, so you will have to come see the show to find out!
HFM: What do you think people can learn from Cinderella’s story?
AC: Kindness. That is our greatest message. No matter who you are, what you’re dealing with, how people treat you, there is always room for kindness. It doesn’t take a beautiful gown to make a prince or a princess. It takes a kind spirit.
HFM: Are there aspects of Cinderella’s character or her story that you can personally relate to? How do these similarities help you perform your role?
AC: I relate to Cinderella in that it took me awhile to realize that I have the power to change my life and the world around me. One of my favorite songs in the show is “There is Music In You,” and that lyric really resonates with me. There is music and magic and power in all of us! Sometimes you just need a little help from your Fairy Godmother in order to see it.
HFM: What did you enjoy most about playing the role of Cinderella?
AC: I gotta say…. I really love transforming from a peasant to a princess on stage every night. It is really, really special. 🙂