Amy Cunningham
As part of their Fairy Tale Summer Series, the curtain is set to open on Gardner Community Theatre’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.”
According to director Will Biggs, the stage version, with music penned by the famous American songwriting duo, puts a twist on the Disney cartoon that many people are familiar with.
He said that there are no mice to help Cinderella along her journey from mistreated stepdaughter to princess.
Biggs believes other subtle differences in the story as well as the musical score will help set this version apart.
“There are three big numbers in the show that people will go out singing,” Biggs said.
He should know, as the band director at Wheatridge Middle School and assistant band director at Gardner Edgerton High School, Biggs has lined up an 18-piece orchestra, heavy on the strings, to tell Cinderella’s musical score.
“We’re telling the same story in a different way and the music is outstanding, it’s incredible,” he said.  “People will be impressed with what they hear.”
With 30 adult performers filling out the cast, Biggs said that the show came together with ease.
“With this show we cast everybody that auditioned; the exact perfect 30 came to auditions, the stars aligned perfectly for this show,” he said.
Emy Blake, who portrays Cinderella, is one of just a few performers not from Gardner, but Biggs says Blake embodies many of the qualities he was looking for when casting a leading lady.
“Emy comes to us and she has been in 15 different musicals,” he said of the young performer’s extensive stage experience.
Blake hails from Prairie Village and graduated high school in 2010. She will enter college this fall to major in musical theatre.
“She heard about us on our website and she came out and auditioned,” Biggs said.
Audience members who attended the Gardner Community Theatre’s production of Beauty and the Beast may recognize the set. Biggs said that, for the first time ever, the group hired a technical designer to put together one set to be used in both productions. Because both shows take place in a fairy tale castle, the group decided to construct one elaborate set with smaller props providing each show its own unique flavor.
Following the July 10 per formance Gardner Community Theatre will host a tea party where young audience members will have the chance to mix and mingle with Cinderella and other members of the cast. Cinderella will also sign autographs.
Shows will be at the Auditorium at Gardner Edgerton High School
Performances are at 7 p.m. on  July 8, 9, 15 and 16, and at 2 p.m. on July 10 and 17.