By Marilyn Delk
Allison Edwards is a 24-year-old actor who lives in suburban Cincinnati and has been acting since she was eight-years-old. Once a week since February 8, as the final presentation of Darke County Center for the Arts’ Arts In Education series, Allison has traveled to Darke County schools as the sole actor in Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati’s Cinderella Wore Cowboy Boots, carrying props, costumes, and set to her destination where she unloads her cargo and sets up the stage to perform for kindergarten through third grade students. After performing a sound check for herself, the energetic performer then changes into her costume, ready to greet the students as they enter the performance space, recruiting participants to become cast and crew for the show she is about to direct and star in.
Now Allison does not yet have a driver’s license, so her father who is self-employed, drives her to these engagements, but other than that vital support, she is on her own in her efforts to create the illusion of reality that is theatre. The glamorous world of theatre seems grittier than expected, doesn’t it?
The show opens with an enthusiastic “Well howdy!!”, then Allison reveals that she’s “got a good story for ya,” but that she’s only one person, and will need a little bit of help from audience volunteers. Then, the story begins—“Once upon a time….” The Queen, acted by Allison, has a problem; her son, Prince Buddy (played by a student) has no interest in assuming royal duties, “shivering at the very thought,” and only wants to ride horses. The Queen decides to hold a big dance offering young ladies of the kingdom the opportunity to meet the future king, and enlists the aid of the Court Jester, played by a teacher whose costume consists of wearing a red ball on her nose.
In another part of the kingdom, Cindy Ella lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters (recruited from the audience) who are beautiful—but mean. Upon learning of the ball, the sisters “run Cindy ragged” meeting their demands; then Cindy’s stepmother informs the hardworking girl that she can only go to the big event after finishing a long list of chores that includes repainting the house inside and out. Topping off the impediments placed in her way, a bucket dumping cinders on Cindy Ella has been rigged up by the sisters to ruin her dress and her plans.
A flock of bluebirds appear to sing “Close your eyes, Make a wish,” before transforming into a fairy godmother who announces “I am here to help you;” with a “Bam” and a “Poof” all of the assigned chores are completed and Cindy is attired in a beautiful blue gown topped by a sparkly crown, her feet shod in beautiful teal blue cowboy boots. Upon arriving at the royal shindig, she takes her horse to the royal stable where she finds the Prince who has left the party to commune with his friends, the horses. And the prince’s heart goes “ba ba boom!”
Later, as the clock strikes 12, Cindy announces “Uh oh, I gotta get outta here!,” but, of course, loses one of her tiny teal boots while fleeing, providing the evidence proving her identity during the royal search for the shoe’s owner. Those teal cowboy boots are eventually bestowed upon the beautiful daughter of Cindy and Prince Buddy, Cinderella, and everyone lives happily ever after.
Allison said that she loves how the students are involved in the show, not only those who become participants in the play but also those in the audience whose responses are required throughout. “The most fun for me is interacting with the kids,” Allison explains. Based upon their laughter and squeals of delight, local students thoroughly enjoyed this introduction to theatre; what they did not begin to understand, however, was the time, effort, and work that went into creating this delightful illusion of reality that had so entertained them.