In a flash, tattered rags transformed into a shimmering, elegant ballgown fit for a princess. A pumpkin transformed into an opulent, regal carriage and mice changed into dashing horses.
This classic scene is widely recognized as the magical handiwork of the fairy godmother in the story “Cinderella.” But in the national touring production, now at the Adrienne Arsht Center, the transformations took place on stage, leaving audience members gasping with delight as an enchanting scene unfolded before them.
“These transformations happen in the middle of the stage,” said Andy Jones, who plays Prince Topher. “No one’s expecting that to happen in live theatre. People expect for someone to run off stage and come back in a different costume. It takes the audience a couple seconds to realize what has just happened in front of them.”
This magic is the work of famed Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long, whose career has included 14 Tony-award nominations, as well as the 2013 Tony award for Best Costume Design for “Cinderella.”
According to Aymee Garcia, who plays Charlotte, one of Cinderella’s stepsisters, it was an “honor” to wear the costumes Long specially tailored for each actor.
“He made them very flattering to each of us,” Garcia said. “It’s not like a cookie cutter ‘this is the costume you wear,’ it’s like oh my gosh William Ivey Long is making something for me, this is thrilling.”
The backstage area overflows with grand, layered dresses with delicate embroidery, piles of armored breastplates, and rows and rows of shoes. But, of course, the most noteworthy pair – Cinderella’s iconic Venetian glass slippers – are kept in a separate area and closely watched.
Paige Faure, Cinderella, had large shoes to fill when it came to facilitating the grand transformations.
“There is a lot of pressure in making sure this plays as flawlessly as possible because you really just want people to be enveloped in this magic and enveloped in the story of it and not get taken away by ‘oh I saw her wig,’” she said.
Faure attributes the transformation to magic, and notes that Long’s costumes transport both the actors and audience to the beautiful palace.
“My dress has 18 layers of fluff to give it that perfect ballroom shape and he really took amazing strides to make it as authentic looking as possible,” she said. “They’re not cartoonishly big, but they are really thrilling and magical.”
Jones also joked about the weight and heft of the costumes, but noted his favorite aspect was not just about the costumes changes, but what it represented.
“For me I think what’s most exciting about the costumes is we have these dress transformations of a girl transforming into who she is and her clothes transforming along with her.”
IF YOU GO
WHERE: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
WHEN: Through Sunday
COST: Tickets start at $26
For more information, visit arshtcenter.org.