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Message behind Burnet High School’s ‘Cinderella’: Be yourself

Burnet High School's 'Cinderella'

Burnet Ensemble Theatre Company student Madi Caropepe, as Cinderella, sings during a recent rehearsal of the musical ‘Cinderella.' The Burnet High School production stays true to the storyline but adds more songs and comedy. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Burnet High School theater arts teacher Amanda Brandenburg finds the deeper themes some people overlook in traditional fairytales. It’s how she and her students in the Burnet Ensemble Theatre Company concluded that “Cinderella” would make a great musical for their upcoming production.

“I wanted to do something that would be familiar with audience members and what they’d want to see, and as I was looking at Cinderella. There are a lot of lessons in there,” Brandenburg said. “It’s more than a love story or romance.”

One thing that stuck out to Brandenburg was that, despite Cinderella’s circumstances — being an orphan forced into servitude — she sees the world as she wants it, not as others tell her to see it.

“I think kids today need to hear that,” Brandenburg said. “They need to know that they are more than who others may say they are or what society may try to define them as.”

The theater company presents “Cinderella,” adapted by Jim Eiler with music by him and Jeanne Bargy, Thursday-Saturday, November 21-23, in the Burnet High School auditorium, 1000 The Green Mile in Burnet. All performances are at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students and $8 for adults.

For the Thursday production, kids 12 and younger who show up in a prince or princess costume get in free.

Burnet High School's 'Cinderella'
Kaitlyn Taras (right) plays the Fairy Godmother and Claire Teague (left) and Kali Crist portray helper mice in ‘Cinderella,’ performed by the Burnet Ensemble Theatre Company. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

This musical is a bit different than the Disney version. It will include more songs and the personalities of the student cast and crew.

“The script tells us what to say, even shows us where we’re supposed to move to,” said Kali Crist, who plays one of the Fairy Godmother’s helper mice, “but we get to decide how to best say it and how we’re going to move to that spot on the stage.”

Brandenburg also challenged each cast member to develop their character’s backstory and motivation.

“We get to create a past for our character,” said Madi Caropepe, who plays Cinderella, “and those come through on stage.”

While many view “Cinderella” as a love story, Brandenburg pointed out that there’s more to the main character.

“She loses her parents, but she still has hope,” she said. “Cinderella has hope that joy will come.”

Then, there’s the glass slipper.

“The symbolism of the glass slipper, it means there’s only one of you. You’re unique,” she explained. “The slipper only fits Cinderella, nobody else. If you think about it, it’s how each one of us is special and unique.

“That’s such an important lesson for kids today,” Brandenburg added. “There’s so much pressure on them to be someone else or someone others think they should be. But, really, the best person they can be is themselves.”

And all this time, you thought it was a simple fairytale.