Matt Raftery, originally from Park Forest, Ill., and now one of Chicago theater's young and promising directors and choreographers, is his own Chicago's South Side "Cinderella" story.
So when asked to create a new spin for the classic Rodgers & Hammerstein telling of "Cinderella," he was happy to lead the way as director and choreographer for Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences' run of the production Nov. 17 through Dec. 31.
It's the first time on the Marriott stage in Lincolnshire, Ill., to share with audiences of all ages the original enchanting score from the same creators of "The King & I" and "Oklahoma!"
"Depending on if it's the perspective of the parents, grandparents or kids in the audiences, everyone has their favorite version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'Cinderella,' based on what TV special they grew up with," Raftery said.
Julie Andrews starred in the title role for the 1957 version, with Kaye Ballard and Alice Ghostley as her mean stepsisters and Edie Adams as the fairy godmother.
In 1965, it was Lesley Ann Warren as the glass slipper princess and Pat Carroll as her stepsister with Celeste Holm as the wand-waving fairy godmother.
And by the 1997 TV remake, it was Brandy starring as Cinderella for a new generation, with Bernadette Peters as her mean stepmother and Whitney Houston as the fairy godmother.
For this new stage retelling with song, it's audience favorite Dara Cameron as Cinderella, re-creating a role she played in 2009 for the standard version (not Rodgers & Hammerstein), this time opposite Brian Bohr as the prince.
Rounding out what Raftery calls "an all-star Chicago cast" are Susan Moniz as the fairy godmother and Iris Lieberman as the evil stepmother; for the mean stepsisters, it's Kelley Abell as Portia and Ericka Mac as Joy; Stephanie Binetti is the queen with Rob Rahn as the king. The ensemble features George Keating, Stephen Schellhardt, Jameson Cooper and Alexandra Palkovic.
Lead Artistic Director Andy Hite heads the artistic team, with musical direction by Ryan Nelson, sound design by Robert Gilmartin, costume design by Nancy Missimi, lighting design by Jesse Klug and Greg Hoffman, properties design by Cassy Schillo and musical supervision by Patti Garwood.