BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Bloomfield High School will present its winter musical next week with four performances of “Cinderella,” with music by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The show will be unique because its director/producer, BHS theater teacher Brandon Doemling, did not have enough high school boys to cast so he had to cast several Bloomfield Middle School boys instead.
“A lot of my guys that I had last year weren’t available,” Doemling said in a telephone interview earlier this week. “So I recruited some from the middle school. Five boys were recommended. I took five, but two decided not to do it.”
He said the role of the Prince would be played by Alex Wolfe, who has performed for the Gas Lamp Players, in Glen Ridge.
“I was aware of him,” Doemling said. “He does a lot of things. He’s pretty experienced.”
The most recent BHS production, staged in November, was “Julius Caesar.” The high school traditionally puts on a winter musical.
“You would think that after ‘Julius Caesar,’ why ‘Cinderella?’ Doemling said. “I wanted to get a more traditional show and something a little bigger.”
Doemling said this ‘Cinderella’ is the 2013 version seen on Broadway and not the Disney version.
“In 2013, it was updated a little bit,” he said. “The character of Cinderella is more modern and not just someone seeking romantic love and the goal of marriage. This one is a little more political.”
Doemling provided a synopsis of the show. The original “Cinderella” was a 1957 TV production starring Julie Andrews. In this new “Cinderella,” the leading lady is known as “Ella,” having acquired the sobriquet “Cinderella” from her evil stepmother because of her sooty appearance. She has two step-sisters, Charlotte and Gabrielle.
The prince, whose name is Christopher or “Topher,” is off to school. In his absence, the kingdom is being ruled by a lord protector, Sebastian. He is not honest and is attempting to usurp the prince’s power and steal the people’s property. Rallying the people is Jean-Michel. In the BHS production, Sebastian is played by a girl.
Upon Topher’s return, the lord protector sugges
ts a ball to find him a bride. A character named Marie reveals herself to Ella as her fairy godmother and outfits Ella for the ball. On meeting the prince, Ella tells him that not all is right in his kingdom. She hastily departs at midnight losing a slipper. But in a major revision, she goes back to retrieve it, leaving the prince with no clue to her identity.
“Cinderella doesn’t believe the prince would love her,” Doemling said. “She takes her shoe. Gabrielle befriends her and the prince uncovers that the lord protector is up to no good. He proposes a banquet.”
Ella attends the banquet. She introduces the prince to the common people and the prince decides to have an election for prime minister. But the midnight hour is again about to be struck.
“Cinderella has to go,” Doemling said, “but she leaves her slipper.”
In previous versions, Doemling said Cinderella was always a victim.
“But in this version, she makes more of an effort,” he said. “She has great influence. The prince turns to her for guidance. This version is much more feminist.”
Doemling said when people ask him how is “Julius Caesar” and “Cinderella” connected, he says they are both have a political message.
There are 36 students in the cast of this winter musical, 14 boys and 22 girls. Some of the boys are freshmen. Doemling said this is a good sign for the future. The middle school boys will be taking the school district bus that stops at the high school.
“We start rehearsals at 3:30,” he said, “and they get here at 3:50.”
But Doemling said casting boys from the middle school had one little problem. Some of the girls were upset because they wanted a chance to be cast, too.
“I honestly just didn’t have enough boys,” he said.
“Cinderella” will be performed at BHS on Thursday, Feb. 28 and on Friday and Saturday, March 1 and 2, at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, March 3, there is a 2 p.m. matinee. Admission will be charged.