2012-06-15 / Arts & Entertainment

Columbia Children’s Theatre presents The Commedia Cinderella

Contributed by Columbia Children’s Theatre

Cinderella cast members: (l-r) Sam LaFrage, Edward Precht, Elizabeth Stepp Cauthen, and Beth DeHart Cinderella cast members: (l-r) Sam LaFrage, Edward Precht, Elizabeth Stepp Cauthen, and Beth DeHart Join a band of lovable vagabond actors from Columbia Children’s Theatre (CCT) as they present The Commedia Cinderella, June 15-24. Performances are Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. There will also be special weekday matinees June 21- 22 at 10:30 a.m. and June 22 at 1 p.m. with discounted admission available for summer camps, day cares, and other groups.

All shows are held at Columbia Children’s Theatre in Richland Mall, 3400 Forest Drive. Tickets are $8 for children three years of age through adult, and can be purchased in advance at columbiachildrenstheatre.com.

This version of the beloved tale is brought to life in the commedia dell’arte style by Columbine, Arlequino, Punchin, Rosetta, and Pantalone, the “traveling Italian actors” from last summer’s popular shows Princess & the Pea and Pinocchio. Featuring a zany combination of comedy and improvisation sprinkled with lots of audience participation, this production is sure to be a delight for children and adults of all ages.

The production is directed by Sam LaFrage, a veteran CCT actor who has returned to Columbia for the summer after graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. The cast features the comedic talents of LaFrage, Paul Lindley II, Beth DeHart, Elizabeth Stepp Cauthen, Edward Precht, Carolyn Chalfant, and Matthew Wright.

Commedia dell’arte, Italian for “comedy of the professional artists,” was a popular form of improvisational theatre that began in Italy in the 15th century and continued in its appeal for centuries. At that time, all performances were unscripted and held outdoors, with only simple props and no scenery.

The style is characterized by traditional stock characters and comedic scenarios.

The influence of commedia dell’arte is evident in much of our contemporary comedy, most notably in the great commedia artists of the 20th century, the Marx Brothers, and most recently with the rise of improvisational comedy shows such as Whose Line is it Anyway. “When people think of the word ‘traditional,’ they usually think of something old fashioned, predictable, or sentimental,” said LaFrage. “Commedia is anything but. Unlike the other styles of theatre, commedia is consistently growing and adapting to the contemporary theatrical demands. Our Cinderella is fresh and new and well... just plain funny.”

Following its initial two-weekend run, it will alternate performances with last summer’s hit Pinocchio at 10:30 a.m. on Thursdays, June 28 through July 26.

Columbia Children’s Theatre is a professional resident not-for-profit theatre dedicated to providing quality live theatre experiences for families and young audiences and is supported in part by the City of Forest Acres, The Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties, and the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information about Columbia Children’s Theatre, call 803-691-4548, or visit columbiachi ldrenstheatre.com.

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