It's believed the first Cinderella story showed up around the 1st century B.C. A Greek slave girl named Rhodopis ("rosy-cheeked") working for a kindly old Egyptian master is mistreated by the other servants.
Coming upon her dancing alone, her master gifts her special slippers, further fueling her tormentors. At a celebration that Rhodopis is kept from, the falcon god Horus drops one of her slippers into the Pharaoh's lap, which he takes as a sign that he should seek out the shoe's owner.
"(It tells us) someone who is kind, true and honest will be rewarded; that's the core," director Laura Coté said.
Set somewhere in Europe and minus the falcon god, the scenery and costumes for Monterey Peninsula College's Storybook Theatre production of "Cinderella" are bright, bold and colorful, a match for this humorous interpretation of the iconic tale.
There will be a discounted preview of "Cinderella" Thursday night, with the show opening Friday night and running through March 10.
Coté chose respected children's theater dramaturge Michele Vacca's adaptation of the fairy tale. "This is the (script) I could picture in my mind," Coté said.
It's not the first time MPC's Storybook Theatre has turned to Vacca. Their "Princess and the Pea" was a Vacca script, as was "Sleeping Beauty." Coté directed the former and acted in the latter.
"The humor in them is appropriate for ages 5 to 105" she noted of the Vacca shows.
Ayanna Blount, most recently seen in MPC's "A Christmas Carol," will play Cinderella and Sam Fife takes the role of Prince Philip. Faith Collins-Beety, a graduate of the MPC theater arts program from the '70s is fairy godmother.
Coté said of the godmother character, "She is eccentric and spunky." She is also tasked in interacting with the audience as their narrator, and Collins-Beety had the right mix.
It's made clear in the show that the fairy godmother has not appeared completely out of the blue. She has been watching over Cinderella all this time, but needed to be called to show herself.
Cinderella has finally expressed a desire that is big enough that she needed her godmother's help.
Looking at things in that way, it opens up possibilities for magic we can attribute in our own lives, something the MPC team was going for with the story.
"Well," mused, the director, "maybe there are fairy godmothers watching over us."
"I wanted to do something very different than the Disney old lady in a blue robe," Coté said of casting the godmother. "I like to keep things open and see what happens in the auditions."
We act like Disney has a monopoly on the story of "Cinderella," but the truth is there are more versions and retellings of the tale than are possible to list here, or most other places, for that matter.
Cinderella-like stories exist around the globe. It's been done as ballet, opera, ice show and pantomime. It was made into silent films in the early 20th century, a Muppet movie in 1970 ("Hey, Cinderella!") and a Rodgers and Hammerstein TV musical three times — in 1957, 1965 and finally a 1997 version that starred Whitney Houston as the fairy godmother.
The story we are most familiar with stems mainly from the French version published in the late 1600s.
Coté commented that it's a shame to peg "Cinderella" only as a princess story, which can often scare off the boys.
"It's unfortunate, because there's a lot to be enjoyed by the boys as well." She names the sets, the dancing, and lots of male characters among the draws.
The cast and crew will do a meet-and-greet after the show, and some children have already coordinated Cinderella birthday parties with the production to include pizza and photo shoots.
This show will be the last that MPC Storybook performs on the road, before their own stage is done with renovations.
It will be staged at the Carmel Middle School Theatre, though it is still part of the MPC season, performed by adults.
Though they will be relieved to return home after this run, Coté is happy about the larger seating capacity the middle school will provide for "Cinderella" audiences.
However, the larger auditorium hasn't interfered with the intimacy of the experience, or the director's potential in involving all those who buy tickets.
"I've tried to incorporate this show so that the audience feels like they are part of the town and are part of the ballroom scene." Because, she explained, that's the fun of it.
Kathryn Petruccelli can be reached at montereybound@yahoo. GO!
What: Monterey Peninsula Storybook Theatre presents Michele Vacca's adaptation of "Cinderella"
Where: Carmel Middle School Theatre, 4380 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel
When: Discounted preview 7p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21; opens 7p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, continuing at 7p.m. Fri- Sat and 3p.m. Sat-Sun through March 10
Tickets: Preview Thursday, Feb. 21, all seats $10. $15 general; $12 young adults (16-21) and military and $9 children 15 and under, available at the MPC box office (646-4213) 3-7p.m. Wednesdays and 3-5p.m. Thu-Fri or at www.TicketGuys.com or www.mpctheatre.com
Information: mpctheatreco.com; 646-4213