First opera of the year premieres in Crill, ‘Cendrillon’

Ensemble cast members dressed as fairies flooded the audience in Crill Performance Hall on the opening night of Cendrillon, and danced around Cinderella and Prince Charming as they performed their spine-tingling reunion scene.

This was Point Loma Opera Theater’s (PLOT) first opera of the year. Cendrillon, Jules Massenet’s French romantic comedy based on Cinderella opened Nov. 12 and ran through Nov. 16.

This tale of Cinderella and her stepsisters falls under the direction of Jordan Miller, who has performed in musical theater and operetta in many national and regional theaters, and musical director Craig Johnson, PLNU music professor and Los Angeles Times acclaimed actor and singer. Cinderella was double casted and played by seniors Kiana Bell, a music major, and Kelsey Kammeraad, a managerial and organizational communications major. Prince Charming was also double casted by senior Jonathan Lacayo, a music major, and junior Derek Legg, a music and business administration double major as well as PLOT’s president.

PLOT put a unique, modern twist on this classical story. Freshman music major McKenna Slack, who played the sassy step sister, Noémie, said they wanted to make this show more relevant since opera is not a common art in pop culture.

“We made my character a punky stepsister and we added in some other little funny parts,” said Slack.

Miller also said they put more emphasis on the relationship between Cendrillon and the fairy godmother. Christen Horne, a 2012 PLNU graduate with a music degree who played the fairy godmother, played Cendrillon in the PLOT’s 2010 production, so they capitalized on this unique opportunity.

“Rather than have the [fairy godmother] simply be a heavenly grandmother-like helper, we expanded her role in the play as divinely omnipotent, encompassing all the characters, with ‘Cendrillon’ as her mortal counterpart,” said Miller.

The ensemble and orchestra flowed together with ease. The ensemble would often leap and dance into the isles and through the rows with enthusiasm as the orchestra provided a brilliant musical context that aided in telling the story and depicted the characters’ emotions in each scene. Because the opera was in French, the hauntingly beautiful subtitles were displayed on the stage’s backdrop in english.

“It was evident how hard the cast worked to produce such a beautiful version of Cinderella,” said Melissa Fox, a junior media communications major who attended the show.

“The use of the fairies as different props, like the carriage or the bed, was really interesting and inventive, also Kelsey Kammeraad and Jonathan Lacayo (Cinderella and Prince Charming) are so incredibly talented.”

Like all intricate shows, the production process didn’t come without stress. Miller said that this was an ambitious project from the beginning. The reality of logistics and the brief and scattered rehearsal schedule times were not ideal.

“Despite setbacks, the work these all-volunteer performers have put in and are continually putting in vastly outshines performances I’ve seen from professionals in major opera houses,” said Miller.

Miller’s favorite part of the show was letting go of the helm and watching the singers take command of the show as a group.

“We’ve had remarkable rehearsals where this happened and the performers fully breathed life into their characters,” he said. “As a director my greatest satisfaction comes from watching the performers own the rich work they have so passionately created.”

The next PLOT production will be Hansel und Gretal in January.