The Other Cinderella

A Holiday Favorite

blake-hawthorne_jayla-williams-craigBlack Ensemble Theater opens up the holiday season with an urban fairytale classic, a story that is now in its 43rd year, 'The Other Cinderella!' There have been a few updates to this familiar tale, set in the Kingdom of Other; however, writer and director Jackie Taylor's current-day changes will thrill the audience, making it a night where you can laugh, smile, and learn about stereotypes.

To Taylor, this fantasy story has always been flexible, so updating the content and elements of The Other Cinderella has kept it a holiday favorite, jam-packed with tons of energy and an enjoyable musical treat.

The musical version of Jackie Taylor's old folk tale is a retelling of the classic fable with an Afro-centric twist. Set in a Land of Other, where there is an African-American King, Queen, and Prince that rules over the hood. There is a mean stepmamma who works at the post office and has two daughters that are just as evil to Cinderella. Add a fairy-godmamma that is from Jamaica, and the brothers from the hood and you have a soulful story filled with fun and laughter.

The Other Cinderella, originally performed in 1976, is a musical where all ages, genders, and races can enjoy. "You'll have a lifetime of hopes and dreams, of successes and failures in planning life's schemes, there will always be heartaches that you must go through, but you'll live through them all because of the spirit in you." This uplifting message is infused with pop culture, contemporary humor, and the understanding of others.

chantee-joy_dwight-nealThe beloved African American classic is pleasantly entertaining, filled with humor, stinging zingers, romance, and brothers from the hood to augment the classic characters. The Black Ensemble band added soulful music of R&B, gospel, and blues, which enhanced the mood of the storyline. The dancing is wild and fun, taking you back to the good old days of soul power, and being black was beauty. Right on, Right on!

This infectious, uplifting, and positive tale provides plenty of social content with its veteran ensemble members Rhonda Preston as stepmamma who has been with Black Ensemble for 20 plus years. Preston brings just enough sassiness as the mean stepmamma who forces Cinderella played by Jayla Williams-Craig into servitude. She is made to work day and night doing menial chores for her and her stepsisters Margarite (Justis Drakes) and Geneva (Jasmine Bomer). Jayla was excellent as The Other Cinderella. She delivered a heartfelt and spiritual message of love and hope and the importance of believing in yourself in 'The Spirit Inside of Me.'

Dwight Neal, another BET veteran, has been with the production company since 2002. He revises his role as the hearty King living in opulence with his beautiful wife, the Queen, played by Chantee Joy. Their son, the Prince, played by Blake Hawthorne, has to deal with his father's questions and concerns about his sexuality and the company that he keeps. BET brilliantly deals with how each parent views homosexuality by admitting that even if all parents haven't accepted it, they still can show love to their children.

Jeff Award winner Robin DaSilva plays the very colorful role of the FairyGodmamma. DaSilva sweet, soulful, and melodic sound, with her fierce "Do as I say," attitude towards Cinderella disbelief will delight the audience with her wit.

Taylor's version of Cinderella is a delightful twist to a classic story; her ability to continuously blend new elementsjustis-drakes_rhonda-preston_jasmine-bomer makes the timeless folktale pop with urban soul and delight. When a boy from the hood Stewart Romeo wins the lottery to become the page of the King, the hood meets royalty. Leaving his boys behind, Groundhog (Vincent Jordan), Peanut Butter (Michael Adkins), and Pee Wee (Blake Reasoner), he sets off to a new land where he finds himself acting as a guide to the wealthy affluent family.

The creativity of Taylor is displayed throughout the musical when an immigrant named Dorothy from Kansas wants to become a citizen of the Kingdom of Other. She has to pass a series of tests, which is hilarious and feeds into another stereotypical misunderstanding.

Other characters in the play are the Attendant (Lemond Hayes) and the Lady in Waiting (Micah Materre), who embarks on a budding romance and song a delightful song of love called, "Love At Me." BET has a lot of great songs, like "The Kingdom of Other," "What's Fair is Fair," "Wash The Walls," and "Respect the Brothers from the Hood."

Let's Play 'Highly Recommends' this refreshingly fun holiday show!


October 26, 2019 – January 19, 2020

Filed under: ChicagoNow

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