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Fresh fairy tale

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Cinderella” is a classic story.

It’s one that has been told for centuries.

With each iteration, something is updated.

From the 1957 film starring Julie Andrews to the 1997 film starring Brandy and Whitney Houston, the story is classic as ever.

Yet with “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” which won a Tony Award for costume design in 2013, the tale comes to life in a new way.

“What’s really wonderful about this particular production of Cinderella is that we’ve updated it,” says Gina Rattan, tour director. “Some people know the Julie Andrews version. This one is different. The costumes and production are top-notch.”

From left, Brian Liebson, Tatyana Lubov and Arnie Rodriguez in “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” (Courtesy of Carol Rosegg)

The production will be staged at University of New Mexico’s Popejoy Hall for six shows beginning on Thursday, Jan. 4.

The Tony Award-winning show follows a young woman named Ella, who does chores for her stepmother, Madame, and stepsisters, Gabrielle and Charlotte, all the while dreaming of a life beyond her rags.

Meanwhile, Prince Topher, the soon-to-become-king, is having a hard time finding his purpose in life. A ball is planned to find Prince Topher a wife. Ella is transformed from a chambermaid into a princess.

Of course, there are the classic elements – glass slippers, pumpkin and a beautiful ball, along with some surprising twists.

Ella’s journey helps her understand she’s more than just a pretty face with the right shoe size.

She is a spirited young woman with savvy and soul who doesn’t let her rags or her gowns trip her up in her quest for kindness, compassion and forgiveness.

Ryan M. Hunt, left, and Hayden Stanes in a scene from “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” (Courtesy of Carol Rosegg)

She longs to escape the drudgery of her work at home and instead work to make the world a better place.

She not only fights for her own dreams but forces Prince Topher to open his eyes to the world around him and realize his dreams too.

“What’s wonderful with this show and project is that the story for Cinderella and the prince are really fleshed out,” Rattan says. “They are three-dimensional characters. There are real expressions of what motivates them. It’s a piece that is really fun to work on. I’ve always found returning to it is fun. It’s exquisite. We wanted to create Cinderella’s world as beautifully and in a way that we have never seen before. We also show the prince’s perspective. No one really is seeing what he is going through. Here he is forced to marry. What does he actually think of that?”

The production has music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, a new book by Douglas Carter Beane and original book by Oscar Hammerstein II.

Originally directed by Mark Brokaw and choreographed by Josh Rhodes, the tour is directed by Rattan and choreographed by Lee Wilkins.

Music adaptation and arrangements are by David Chase, and music supervision is by Greg Anthony Rassen. Orchestrations are by Bill Elliott and are adapted from the original Broadway orchestrations by Danny Troob.

“Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” was written for television, debuting in 1957 and starring Julie Andrews.

In 2013, the show made its long-overdue Broadway debut. The production closed on Jan. 3, 2015, after 41 previews and 770 regular performances.

A national tour ran from October 2014 to May 2016.

The current tour, produced by Work Light Productions, began in September 2016 and continues to travel the world.

Hayden Stanes and the company of “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.”

“Working as a director on this is an exciting job,” Rattan says. “I get to collaborate with so many wonderful artists. We have this wonderful, excited synthesis of ideas. Being in the position I’m in, I help guide those to further define the show. It’s a big collaboration. This production is also great because there are new elements with traditional elements. It doesn’t feel old or crusty in any way. We’re getting to know the characters, which allows us to become invested. We’re able to tell an empowering story for women with this show. It’s important, especially in today’s climate.”