1/26/2019        EVER AFTER                                        Alliance Theatre


***½  ( B ) 



So, after many, many months of the Gypsy Theatre Life, The Alliance Theatre has settled into its new home – the beautiful and expensive (looking) Coca-Cola Stage, with another in its string of (perhaps) Broadway-Bound Musicals.  It’s Ever After, another musical based on another Cinderella Movie (1998’s Ever After with Drew Barrymore).  To say it’s a pull-out-the stops extravagantly tuneful feel-good family-fun show would be true.  To say it’s a Been-There Seen-That rehash of ideas and plot points that have been done to death would also be true.


But, let’s be honest here, The Cinderella story is an archetype that always works.  It appeals to our innate fear of parental neglect and our innate optimism that “Happily Ever After” will be (eventually) our lot in life.


And it never hurts to have our heroine be plucky and adventurous, every-inch-a-match for any prince (charming or otherwise), and played by a woman who looks like a screen goddess and sings like a Broadway Angel.


Would it be too redundant for me to “recap” the story?  Perhaps.  So let me do a little wiki-ing here for you.  We are in France, with a King named “Francis” and a Queen named “Marie,” a court that includes the ultimate Italian Renaissance Man, Leonarda Da Vinci himself.  That would make the year sometime between 1515 (The start of the reign of Francis I) and 1519 (Leonardo’s Death).  But that would make the King somewhere between 11 and 15 years old, not the middle-aged King we see here.  And Francis’s spouse at the time was named Claude, not Marie.  And it would make Prince Henry, um, pre-natal.  Let’s not Wiki any more.

Let’s just say we are in an alternate France sometime in the early 1500’s.  Danielle de Barbarac has lost her father and resides as a servant with her step-mother (the Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent) and step-sisters (Marguerite and Jacqueline), only one of whom could be said to be “wicked.”  She stops a would-be horse thief who turns out to be Prince Henry himself, on a sabbatical from that most onerous of duties, marrying a Spanish Princess he does not love.  Or even know.  Alright, I guess you know the rest.


Because this is a storybook romance, there are the requisite obstacles, the requisite accomplices (a loving pair of servants AND the great Leonardo himself), the requisite silly hair styles, the requisite villain (a truly creepy neighbor who lusts after our heroine), and the requisite Bohemians, who for reasons buried in the middle of a lively production number, accept Danielle as their queen.  None of these plot elements come as a surprise, but they come with a wink and a nudge, a twinkle and a self-aware shrug, and a plethora of energy to spare.


This is a cast full of Broadway “Names,” but it is Sierra Boggess (Ariel in the Original Cast of Little Mermaid and Christine in the first production of the Phantom sequel, Love Never Dies) who truly sells this show and makes it soar.  She is a force of nature, a wonderful actress who constantly surprises as she commits to being Danielle, and a wonderful singer whose voice SHOULD be part of every new venue’s inaugural production.  I loved every minute of her performance.   She is joined by other familiar names – Rachel York (City of Angels, Scarlet Pimpernel), David Garrison (Titanic, Day in Hollywood), Jeff McCarthy (Side Show) -- as well as (more than) a few Atlanta names (Chris Kayser and Terry Burrell as the King and Queen, for example).


Once again, The Alliance has failed to include a song list, but Wikipedia (Yeah, I’ve GOT to stop going down that Rabbit Hole) lists the numbers from a limited 2015 workshop at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse (see footnote).  Which is to say, some songs may have been dropped, others added, more renamed or rearranged.  That being said, I really liked the “meeting Danielle” song (“Who Needs Love?”), the “meet cute” song (“My Cousin’s Cousin”), Prince Henry’s “I’m in Love” song (“Right Before my Eyes”), and, especially, the Baroness’s (You’re not the only one with a tough life” song (“It’s Done,” in which she compares Danielle to a “Pebble in my Shoe”), a song that raised the character from cardboard villainess to fully dimensional character.  If some of the large-scale production numbers fall too quickly from memory – especially the too-long Bohemians number (“All Hail The Gypsy Queen”), well, that didn’t make them any less entertaining.


On the technical side, standouts are the lights of Robert Wiezel, which isolated and expended with perfect timing and color, and the costumes of Linda Cho, which were extravagantly silly at times, breathtakingly beautiful at others, and even colorful to the point of chromo-cacophony at carefully chosen moments.


So, Ever After is a very palatable confection, an overly-familiar story told with both razzle-dazzle and grace, with an utterly uncommonly excellent performance at its center to make it memorable.


If it makes it to Broadway, it will be a true Cinderella Story – a large-scale musical by a creative team known mostly for small-scale off-Broadway shows for the young (Dear Edwina), a musical that conquers with a can-do attitude of spunk and verve.  It is the perfect show to launch the new Coca-Cola Theatre.


   --  Brad Rudy  (BKRudy@aol.com   @bk_rudy    #CocoColaStage  #EverAfter)


Note – A feature if the new theatre is soundproof “Crying Rooms” at the rear of the Orchestra, for when younger audience members need some “time out.”  Because opening night was sold out, and I was ushering, I watched the show from here – accordingly, I can’t judge the efficacy of the sound design, since all I heard was what came out of the Crying Room speaker – but that was pretty darn good for a small speaker in a soundproof room.



Song List from the 2015 Paper Mill Production:


Act 1

  • "The Only Thing You Can Be Sure Of" – Leonardo da Vinci

  • "Chère Danielle/Ever After" – Young Danielle, Louise, Paulette, Gustave, Maurice, Rodmilla,

Auguste, Marguerite, Jacqueline, Danielle, and Servants

  • "Who Needs Love?" – Danielle, Maurice, and Louise

  • "The King’s Edict" – King Francis, Queen Marie, and Prince Henry

  • "Cruel Morning" – Henry and Peasants

  • "Help Me" – Danielle, Gustave, Leonardo, Flanek, Henry, Laurent, and Gypsies

  • "Court Madrigal" – Courtiers

  • "My Cousin’s Cousin" – Danielle and Henry

  • "When Henry Takes a Princess" – Marguerite, Rodmilla, and Jacqueline

  • "A Healthy Bit of Competition" – Marguerite, Henry, Jacqueline, Rodmilla, King Francis, Queen Marie, and Courtiers

  • "After All" – Rodmilla

  • "I Remember" – Danielle

  • "All Hail the Gypsy Queen" – Flanek, Danielle, Henry, and Gypsies

  • "Out of the Darkness" – Danielle and Henry


Act 2

  • "Who Do You Think You Are?" – Henry, Rodmilla, Marguerite, Danielle, and Jacqueline

  • "The Prince Has Already Chosen a Bride" – Laurent, Rodmilla, Marguerite, Jacqueline, and Courtiers

  • "Right Before My Eyes" – Henry

  • "My Cousin’s Cousin (Reprise)" – Marguerite, Rodmilla, Danielle, and Jacqueline

  • "Help Me (Reprise)" – Maurice, Louise, and Gustave

  • "Is There Anything Leonardo Can’t Do?" – Laurent and Courtiers

  • "What Should I Tell Him?" – Danielle and Leonardo

  • "Soft Comes My Love" – Quartet, Jacqueline, Laurent, and Courtiers

  • "What Should I Tell Him? (Reprise)" – Leonardo and Henry

  • "It’s Done" – Danielle and Rodmilla

  • "Rodmilla’s Fate" – Laurent

  • "Love Goes On" – Henry, Danielle, and Company

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