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Christian Heritage Academy students bring ‘Cinderella’ to life

By ALEXA BURNELL, Freelance Reporter

As published in The Winnetka Current on March 1, 2018; Glenview Lantern on March 1, 2018; Northbrook Tower on March 8, 2018.


While glass slippers and horse-drawn carriages may be a thing of the past, topics of kindness, selflessness and redemption are just as relevant in 2018, if not more so, than they were centuries ago. This is the message the performers and director conveyed during Christian Heritage Academy’s recent production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” which graced the stage Friday, Feb. 23 and Saturday, Feb. 24.

“The way I see it is the stage is our laboratory for life, and the lessons learned here are woven into everything we do, reflecting our values and belief,” Director Susan Baliles said. Baliles admitted that when most think of Cinderella, they picture the Disney version — a lovely blonde dressed in rags, only to be saved by a prince, get married and live happily ever after by his side. But Baliles explained that the Rodgers and Hammerstein version, set in the middle ages, portrays a strong and powerful young woman, admired more for her kind heart and resistance against evil, rather than her ability to capture the eye of the prince.

“Throughout history, we see stories about a persecuted girl who does not give into evil,” she said. “This is very true of Cinderella, who doesn’t allow her stepsisters’ and stepmother’s evil ways to eat away at her. [Rodgers and Hammerstein’s] Cinderella has a true, servant’s heart, thinking of others before herself.”

Sophomore Brianna Hudson, of Deerfield, plays Cinderella, echoing Baliles sentiments about Cinderella’s strong and selfless character. “To me, Cinderella is inspiring and sends a powerful message at a time in life when we need it most,” Hudson said. “She is not mean spirited or spiteful, she returns the evil behavior given to her with kindness and love. She is unwavering in her commitment to be a beautiful human being. Our world could use more of that right now.”

Sophomore Sarah Jaley, of Glenview, plays Cinderella’s godmother, describing her as a role model for Cinderella. “The godmother is very nurturing, wise and maternal. She cares for Cinderella, encouraging her to be strong, choose kindness and not give up hope,” she said.

Along with the moral lessons woven into the plot, Baliles also teaches her students about the importance of each role, saying there are no big or small parts. “I don’t like to call a character a ‘lead’ necessarily because this experience isn’t about being the star. It’s also not about being the best,” she said. “I do, however, expect everyone to accept the responsibility that comes with their role with excellence and perform to their highest level,”

For Jonathon Read, of Northbrook, Baliles’ words and perspective gave him a new outlook on his role as the prince. “I’ve always been a bit shy about getting on stage and singing, even though I love it,” Read said. “But when I looked at my role as a responsibility to the fellow performers and adopted a ‘We are all in this together’ mindset, I felt more confident. This experience has taught me to believe in myself — something I can apply both on and off the stage.”