Cinderella opera ‘Cendrillon,’ does not work out

The traditional Cinderella story was performed at CSUN with an unusual twist in the opera “Cendrillon” directed by Maurice Godin.

The student production of Cinderella, performed in French, was accompanied by an English translation on a projector. The play was limited by the audience having to choose whether to focus on the screen or the performances. One would not make sense without the other.

Some may feel the Cinderella story has been performed too many times. The director Godin didn’t do much to elevate the familiar story, and did not make it feel fresh to the audience. The major drawdown of the production was the language the play was performed in. If the play had been performed for a French audience it might have been more popular. This is America, and few speak French.

The play starts in Madame de la Haltiére’s (Tiffany Argumeo) house, preparing her daughters Noémie (Kayla Bailey) and Dorothée (Vanessa Martinez). The daughters were given a makeover and new clothes to persuade the prince to marry one of them. Cinderella is left behind to do menial tasks, not allowed to join the festivities. With the help of her fairy godmother, Cinderella attends the ball but must return before the strike of midnight.

There were a few humorous moments in the play. Cinderella is transported to the prince’s ball on a bicycle instead of horse and carriage.

It’s easy to notice this is a student production with a limited budget, one of the actors lost a note with his lines on the floor. The set design was simple and looked sort of cheap, especially a big tree in the background.

The actor’s performances weren’t of the highest quality. It seemed like the actors did not understand what they were singing about resulting in expressionless faces and stiff moments.

Nan Cui who played Cinderella was among the strongest actors. Cui portrayed a believable character and it was easy to see the pain Cinderella went through. Urfa Zakarian, who played the Fairy, was another actor who did a great job of playing with passion.

It wasn’t just the acting performances that were troublesome. The music was too loud at times and made it hard to hear the actors sing, however this has happened to professional performances as well.

The CSUN Theater Department tried to revamp a classical tale. However, aside from the French language, nothing was all that different.

“Cendrillon” continues their show at Nordhoff Hall at CSUN through November 4, Friday 2, 7:30 p.m. and Sun 4, 2 p.m.