What is the most powerful word in the English language? Arguably, it is the word "No." To stand up for oneself; to protect one's independence, the word "no" is absolutely essential. Now, what if you couldn't say no? That is the question explored in the fairy tale-based novel by the popular YA author, Gail Carson Levine, which is making its debut as a World Premier Musical at First Stage Theater in Milwaukee: Ella Enchanted.
Ella (Alison Pogorelc/Taylor Kass) is given the gift of obedience by a well-meaning fairy. The "gift," of course, turns out to be a curse. Her mother (Niffer Clarke) begs the fairy to take back the gift, to no avail, and does her best to teach Ella to live with her curse, commanding her to tell no one, lest it be used against her. Then, of course, her mother dies. No matter what anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey, and it doesn't take long for her wicked stepsisters, Hatie (Grace Becker/Madison Penzkover) and Olive (Elizabeth Robbins/Mari Duckler), to figure out Ella's secret and to use it to their advantage. Ella's father (Milwaukee favorite, Matt Daniels) is completely clueless, and marries Dame Lucinda (Bree Beelow) to deal with his affairs, including his quirky daughter.
Luckily, Ella has a true friend in Prince Char (Max Pink/Cole Winston), but her jealous stepsister means to have the Prince for herself, and will do anything to keep Ella out of her way. Can Ella overcome her curse and live happily ever after?
Anyone who loves a good fairy tale will fall in love with Ella Enchanted. Directed by John Maclay, with stage play and lyrics by Karen Zacarias, and music and additional lyrics by Deborah Wicks LaPuma, Ella Enchanted is the result of the First Stage commitment to new play development, and their willingness to collaborate with other theaters and artists; in this case, Adventure Theatre MTC in Maryland.
"We believe in the power of theater and our responsibility to tell meaningful stories to which young people and families can relate," said First Stage Artistic Director, Jeff Frank.
First Stage has received national recognition for their new play development by being invited, once again, to participate in the Kennedy Center's New Visions/New Voices biennial festival for playwrights and theaters this spring in Washington DC with another World Premier Play making its debut next season, TXT U L8R. See all of the plays in First Stage's 30th Season here.
Tickets for Ella Enchanted, which runs from April 1st through May 1st, can be purchased on the First Stage website: www.firststage.org, or by calling (414) 267-2961. For a really great theater experience, purchase two tickets to performances of either the premiere musical, Ella Enchanted (ages 6 & up) on April 1 – May 1, or for Antigone (ages 13 & up), April 8 – 17, for just $20 per pair of tickets. Order by phone only at (414) 267-2961. Mention code "GIRLPOWER" when you call.
On Sunday, April 17th, attend a special Author's Brunch with Gail Carson Levine, author of Ella Enchanted, at the InterContinental Hotel, located across the street from the Todd Wehr Theater. Director John Maclay will be on hand to share behind-the-scenes insights about the creative process behind this world premiere musical, and guests will enjoy a sneak-peek musical performance by two young performers in the show.
About First Stage Founded in 1987, First Stage is one of the nation’s most acclaimed children’s theaters, and the second largest theater company in Milwaukee. First Stage touches hearts, engages minds, and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences for young people and families through Professional theater productions that inspire, enlighten, and entertain; unparalleled Theater Academy training that fosters life skills through stage skills; dynamic Theater in Education programs that promote active learning in our schools and community. First Stage is a member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Arts Wisconsin and TYA/USA, the international association of theater for children and young people. First Stage is a proud cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund.