DASH Center’s ‘Cinderella’ promises to be a big hit

DASH Center for the Arts is preparing to stage its first major musical theater production since its wonderful “The Wiz” in 2009: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.” Featuring a cast of 40, the show will include warmth and romance, lots of laughs, and the types of amazing song, music and dance that the Center has become known for.

All of the beloved characters from the well-known fairy tale will be included in this play – the Fairy Godmother, the evil Stepmother and Stepsisters, the handsome Prince and, of course, Cinderella, who will be played by 16-year-old Christen Blackwell. Isaiah Parker plays The Duke. He said to expect some surprises in Dash Center’s version. “There are chances being taken, and that’s what’s so cool about this show. It’s not your typical ‘Cinderella.’ This one is more upbeat, more real and urban, and with more depth.”

Isiah Anderson is the play’s director; choreography is by DASH Center Artistic Director Jimmy Shields; music direction by Ayo Cooley and Michael Cole.

Well seasoned in his craft, this actor and comedian is a youth organizer with Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation and produced plays for nearly 20 years at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. He said that this “Cinderella” is most like the 1997 movie version that starred Brandy and the late Whitney Houston, but with a few more original songs.

Because he works mainly with low income and disadvantaged youth, Anderson takes traditional productions and “chocolatizes” them, as he put it. “I give them an urban feel so kids can better relate to them.” For example, he once presented “Grease” as a tribute to Brown v. Board of Education.

Anderson said he’s particularly pleased with have Blackwell and Parker in the play. “I was seeking innocence,” he said. “A lot of kids lost that so early in life, and I didn’t want to direct someone to be innocent. These two have had a good upbringing and support from their families.”

Everyone in the cast brings something special, as the ensemble ranges in age from 4 to adult and includes theatrical first-timers and professional artists. DASH Center founder and executive director Candi Hall said many non-paid volunteers and artists have put in countless hours in costuming, advertising and rehearsals. “‘Cinderella’ will show that we are ready to play in the big leagues and make DASH Center for the Arts a household name when it comes to Tacoma theater.” She said she is proud of how the real effort all the young actors are putting into the production. “It’s wonderful to see youth working outside their comfort zone, growing and expanding their horizons, creating new experiences for themselves. That’s what DASH Center is all about.”

Anderson said there are sub-themes of family and life throughout the play. “It’s a great story about family. For example, the king and queen are pushing their son, like parents push their own kids, and they have great intentions but sometimes they need to back off and allow their children to make their own choices.”

As a special treat to families, Cinderella will hold a tea party from 5-6 p.m. on April 28, where guest can enjoy meeting the beautiful princess over tea and pastries. Tickets to Cinderella’s Tea Party are $10 each and include pictures with Cinderella. Seating is limited, so get tickets early.

“Cinderella” plays for one weekend only – April 27 at 7:30 p.m.; April 28 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and April 29 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – at Mt. Tahoma High School Theatre, 4634 S. 74th St. Tickets are $10 and $15, available at www.thedashcenter.org or by calling (253) 507-9466.

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