Valley View Performing Arts will present Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” on Friday and Saturday, March 9 and 10, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 11, at 3 p.m. in the Valley View High School auditorium.
More than 70 students are involved in this year’s production, including members of the cast, crew and orchestra.
One notable change this year: longtime director Gina Pascolini has handed over the director role to Nick Lazor, although she retains the title of production manager.
“While it’s my first time being in charge of the entire production at Valley View, I have directored various shows in the past, both at Valley View and Abington Heights,” Lazor said. “The difference is, this year, I’ve also taken on many of the production roles — organizing props and costumes, for example. It’s a lot more work, but having many people volunteer their time is a tremendous help.”
The rest of the production team includes Ken Rupp (light and sound crew), Torey Mengoni (vocal director), Michael Lesnesky (orchestra director), MaryTherese McKane (artistic associate), Mary Gowat (costume and props mistress), Craig Friedman (set construction, set and lighting design), Jana Martin (programs and artwork) and Jovanna Rusnak (production assistant).
The musical has been produced for television three times: in 1957, 1965 and most recently in 1997. The 1957 version was seen by the largest audience in history at the time of its premiere: 107 million people approximately 60 percent of the country’s population at that time. The 1997 production was the No. 1 show of the week, with more than 60 million viewers. It became the highest-rated TV musical in a generation.
“Vocal director Torey Mengoni and I chose it because it has a large ensemble, giving many students the opportunity to be on stage,” said Lazor. “It also has one of the most beautiful soundtracks I’ve come across, as well as a couple of opportunities for some choreography during the show — a must for any show that I direct.”
While a big show can make an impact on the audience, Lazor acknowledged wrangling that large a cast can be complicated.
“Coordinating and choreographing large groups can be a headache, at times,” he said, “trying to make it look interesting without being overly complicated. There are a couple of moments in this show (“The Prince is Giving a Ball”, the ball itself, and “The Pursuit”) that took multiple rehearsals just to teach, since they involved so many members of the cast. In the end, though, the kids learn what they need to learn and work their hardest to make sure the original idea is communicated to the audience.”
Lazor noted that the most challenging aspect putting together the spring musical is “the unknown. Snow days (meaning, days with no rehearsal), student illness, delays in the delivery of the scripts or other necessary items can all throw a wrench into the best-laid plans. You have to ‘play the hand you’re dealt’ and accept that there are some things over which you have no control. Being adaptable and creative is a must.”
Lazor also stressed that, although it is a familiar story, this version, created by the legendary team of Rogers and Hammerstein, is “not necessarily the version of the story everyone is familiar with. There are twists and turns that keep the audience guessing and allow the characters to take control of their own destiny. It is very much worth seeing.”