Actress Kaitlyn Davidson’s steps into those super-fragile slippers as "Ella" in "Cinderella" at TPAC Oct. 20 - 25.
The Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s (TPAC) first Broadway Special outside of its 2015-2106 regular series comes to town this month with Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. The legendary team originally wrote the musical for TV, and it was first broadcast live on March 31, 1957 as a vehicle for Julie Andrews. The timeless tale is as popular as ever, and in 2013, an adaptation with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane opened on Broadway.
A national tour kicked off a a year ago, and actress Kaitlyn Davidson — an Overland Park, Kan., native with a musical theater degree from the Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music — is no stranger to the show.
Davidson was a member of the ensemble cast on Broadway where she was an understudy for both Ella (that’s Cinderella’s name in this new version) and stepsister Gabrielle. She’s been on the tour from the beginning playing Gabrielle, and she’s getting ready to fill the glass slippers, taking over the lead role by the time the show arrives in Nashville.
“Right now, I’m still playing the stepsister by night and rehearsing Cinderella by day. It’s a little crazy, but fun,” says Davidson. “We’re coming up on the one year mark of the tour, which is a big time of transition because a lot of principals are contracted for one year. I had to audition again in New York. I did perform Cinderella in New York, but none of the current creative team or producers got to see me do it, so they wanted to see me try out,” she adds.
Nashville will be the second city where Davidson takes on the lead role (the tour hits Memphis first), and the self-proclaimed “product of Disney movies and Mary Poppins” assures theater audiences the new take on the classic tale isn’t too much of a change.
“It’s the same story that everyone knows and loves, but there are new twists and turns,” Davidson says. “A lot of the characters have been fleshed out a little bit more, so it’s not quite so two-dimensional. There are moments in the show that are beautiful, sweeping and romantic, and there there are parts that are really funny. The jokes are topical and funny to our current time,” she adds.
Of course, any fairy tale tends to have a central message, usually one relatable to kids. So, what’s Davidson’s favorite thing about the Cinderella story?
“I think one of the major themes of our show is anything is possible if you believe in yourself. I think that’s a huge arc for Cinderella as well as for other characters in the show … for the prince … for the stepsister,” Davidson says. “I think it’s an incredible rule for any young kid that you can do anything in life if you put your mind to it, if you’re willing to fight for it. It’s one of the great messages of our show and something I often have to remember myself … you’re going to have to put some investment into your dreams,” she adds.
IF YOU GO:
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella
Oct. 20 – 25 (All ages)
TPAC’s Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 • tpac.org
Show times: Tue – Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 & 8 p.m., Sun 1 & 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 – $75