W.F. West Opens Traditional, if Not Well-Known, Adaptation of ‘Cinderella’


Those who only know Disney’s version of the Cinderella story will likely be a little confused when watching W.F. West High School’s take on the French fairy tale.

“This is the Rodger and Hammerstein Cinderella, the original that started everything,” said director Brian Adams. “So a lot of people don’t know the songs from this show because they’re thinking of ‘Bibbity Bobbity Boo’ and all that. And we all knew that.”

Fans of the television film “Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” that Disney produced in 1997, however, will get to see some of that film’s popular numbers such as “In My Own Little Corner” and “Impossible/It’s Possible” performed on the W.F. West stage.

“If you saw the version from 25 years ago with Brandy and Whitney Houston, that’s what this is,” Adams said.

Like most adaptations of the fairytale, Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella centers around the titular Cinderella (portrayed by Emma Ricks) who is treated cruelly by her stepmother (portrayed by Ana Chisnell) and stepsisters (portrayed by Emma Bush and Grace Robison), but with the help of her fairy godmother (portrayed by Ruby Stanton and Mercedes Ricks), she is able to attend a ball to meet her prince (portrayed by Kody Paterson).

“It’s been a lot of fun to act with all these people. I love all of them so much and it’s a fun environment,” Emma Ricks said.

A senior at W.F. West, Emma Ricks got involved in theater as a sophomore out of a love for acting and singing.

Emma Ricks approached the character of Cinderella as someone who takes strength in her kindness and starts out meek, but grows to embrace her love story.

“What I really liked about the character is that she's never mean, and never is sassy to get what she wants. She's always kind and gentle even though she's pushed to and fro by her stepsisters,” she said.

In taking on the role of Cinderella’s prince, Paterson said he strived to play the character as more “dorky (and) relatable,” but got a note from Adams asking him to portray the prince as more confident, “so I kind of just took those two and made a Frankenstein.”

Stanton and Mercedes Ricks are in the unique position of sharing the role of Cinderella’s fairy godmother, named Marie in this adaptation.

“It’s fun to act with both of them. They’re so awesome,” said Emma Ricks.

“It’s really fun, because (Emma Ricks) is my older sister, but I’m supposed to be the motherly-model for her,” said Mercedes Ricks. “So it’s been really fun acting with my sister and just making Marie crazy and fun, and just the positive energy in it.”

Stanton also sought to balance the fairy godmother’s mentorship role with humor.

“Usually people would think of the fairy godmother as this regal person, like she is the godmother, but I really like taking my own turn,” Stanton said.

Adams ordered the Broadway version of the script for the cast to use in this production, thinking it would be an appropriate stage adaptation of the 1997 movie, only to be met with an unpleasant surprise when the scripts arrived.

“I started reading it and I was like, ‘What is this? This is awful. I don't understand this.’ And what they had done is, when they took it on tour in 2014, apparently Rodgers and Hammerstein gave somebody permission to rewrite the script and he made it more of a modern-day kind of thing,” he said.

That modern adaptation featured changes that Adams felt made the story too unrecognizable for those familiar with the traditional Cinderella story, like a subplot where a stepsister becomes “good” and helps Cinderella.

“I'm thinking, ‘people aren't going to understand this, they want the traditional Cinderella.’ So it was a big hassle the first couple of weeks, because we had to do some twisting and moving things around in the script and I just didn't anticipate that,” Adams said. “It was an eye opener.”

Despite the initial hassle, W.F. West’s winter musical has come together — largely thanks to the work of the show’s crew chief, W.F. West senior Gwen Robertson.

Robertson’s responsibilities include overseeing the show’s crew, making and painting props and set pieces, changing sets on stage during the show, “basically anything that needs to be done to make sure the show runs smoothly,” she said.

This year’s sets are simpler than the sets for last year’s production of Beauty and the Beast, she said, “but that meant we got to put a lot of our time and dedication into the town and making details pop.”

When asked what pieces she was proudest of for this show, Roberson mentioned the masquerade masks, which she handpainted along with W.F. West graduate Valerie Higgins. “We were given white masks and we painted from the base colors to the shiny sparklies on them and I’m very proud of them,” said Robertson.

Cinderella opened at the W.F. West High School theater, located at 342 SW 16th St. in Chehalis, on Friday. Performances are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, as well as 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17.

Tickets are $9 per person and can be purchased at the door.

Cast List

Cinderella: Emma Ricks

Prince: Kody Paterson

Queen Constantine: Isabella Taylor

King Maximillian: Devan Cook

Fairy Godmother: Ruby Stanton/Mercedes Ricks

Madame (Stepmother): Ana Chisnell

Charlotte (Stepsister): Emma Bush

Gabrielle (Stepsister): Grace Robison

Lionel: Arlo Phillips

Lady Pinkleton: Savannah Bryant

Ensemble/villagers: Hunter Degravelles Gracie Durham, Isabella House, Xzavier Keech, Katie Mielitz, Coral Tobeck, Alysha Quick, Jane Ricks, Kelsey Schow, Savannah Schow, Hailey Sturdevant, Layla Von Wald and Alex Yip