On the surface, Soldotna High School’s rendition of Cinderella may seem a little off.
Instead of a fireplace, there is a boiler room and instead of a pumpkin carriage, there is an airship, but the classic tale of Cinderella and the glass slipper is still being told, just with a steam-punk twist.
“I don’t like my fairy tales too fluffy,” said the musical’s director and drama teacher Sara Erfurth. “So the set is going to have steam-punk elements all over them. I think it’s nice to put a little bit of grit, a little bit of edge on stories to envision them in slightly different circumstances.”
Combining the worlds of Cinderella and steam-punk allows the students to explore two alternate universes. The first is one where fairy godmothers and glass slippers lead to true love, the other is a science fiction world that combines Victorian aesthetic combined with a modern punk sensibility — think goggles and brass.
“It’s just a melding of those different worlds,” Erfurth said.
A prime example of this unique crossover is whenever animals take the stage.
“We did a little bit of a twist with the animals,” Erfurth said. “I didn’t want to do anything too infantile by the kids pretending to be animals … so we have these cyborg-esque puppets and the kids had to learn how to be puppeteers, which is an interesting challenge.”
At a recent rehearsal, students traipsed their puppets around backstage to practice the nuances of puppeteering with chrome, skeletal animals bouncing off the floor.
“Being a puppeteer is so cool,” said cast member Trevor Marks. “It’s really fun to work with the puppets. I’m really excited about it and my family is going to be at the show, which will be awesome.”
The musical premieres tonight in the Soldotna High School auditorium at 6:30 p.m., with shows on Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. as well. Tickets are $10.
The cast has been rehearsing since the second week of school, Erfurth said, and a lot of different people have come together to make the production a reality.
“It had been a lot of years since this school had done a musical before last year, and now I think there is this renewal of confidence that we can do something large like this,” Erfurth said. “Undertaking this project is massive.”
The set, with all the steam-punk elements, is intricate and grandiose, said Erfurth. Her husband, Nathan Erfurth, is the musical’s technical director and designed all the sets.
“There are so many more sets and the scale and the scope of the are huge,” she said.
Kent Peterson and Teri Zopf-Schoessler also lent their expertise to the production.
“We’ve got a very experienced choreographer with Teri and we have Mr. Peterson, who has quite graciously given a lot of his time to do vocals and the orchestra. On top of that … it’s really cool to see how talented the kids are,” Erfurth said. “We have a lot of fantastic singers.”
For one of the cast members, the musical is a dream come true.
“I have always wanted to play Cinderella,” said Anya Hondel, who plays the title character with a penchant for losing shoes. “She’s my favorite Disney princess, so it’s cool to be immersed in one of my favorite stories.”