‘The Ash Girl’ Cometh
Cinderella grows up in Lees-McRae College’s theatrical
production of “The Ash Girl,” beginning its run Nov. 21 at Hayes Auditorium in Banner Elk.
Unlike the Disney version of the age-old folk tale, “Ash Girl”” offers a more mature version of the events that transpire behind the scenes in the home of her evil stepmother.
“This is a well known story in different cultures,” said Anna Ward, who is the guest director for the play, but calls the theater department at Appalachian State University her true home. “The playwright (Timberlake Wertenbaker) was British and wove in styles and characters from medieval productions and plays. The characters for the seven deadly sins and the journey that Ashgirl takes are (also) interwoven with mythologies.”
According to the play’s synopsis, Ashgirl lives huddled deep in the protection of an ashy hearth. Like in the traditional Cinderella story, she lives unhappily with her stepmother and stepsisters until an invitation to the ball arrives from the prince.
With the help of her friends, Ashgirl finds the strength to attend, but when she gets home, she realizes that in order to regain the fleeting happiness she found in the prince’s arms, she must fight the monsters that have insinuated their way into her heart and mind. Ultimately, Ashgirl learns that she must believe in herself for others to do so.
“I would of sort of compare it to more of the TV shows that come about, like the new version of story time and (Brothers) Grimm stories,” Ward said. “The play has characters that are more dark in interaction than what we were originally taught.”
While younger audiences would likely identify with some of the play’s themes and storyline, Ward said “The Ash Girl” is better suited for older theatergoers.
“It definitely could appeal to those around 9 and up,” she said. “Not to say younger people wouldn’t enjoy it, but it’s not a children’s show just because it is based on ‘Cinderella.’ There’s nothing controversial in the play, but it does have some serious themes.”
Ward said the language of the script is more simplistic than what some might expect from literature. Unlike a musical, the play will not have an accompanying orchestra, but there will be live music in the form of a pageant wagon performance, which were commonplace during Renaissance times.
“We also have some acoustic elements and use masks, as well as an actual wagon set that looks like a wagon but doubles as a house and castle,” Ward said of the set designed by LMC’s Danielle Curtis and Drew Wallace.
Production for the play began in earnest in late October and has progressed nicely, Ward said.
“Rehearsal has gone really well,” Ward said. “I’ve really enjoyed working at Lees McRae. I went to undergrad there for two years, and it’s been really neat to go back and participate in the program in a different way. Some of the same people are still there, and it’s the same facilities with updates and changes. This has been a nice, full-circle experience.”
Performances take place Nov. 21, 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m., with a final matinee performance Nov. 24 at 2 p.m., all at LMC’s Hayes Auditorium on Main Street in Banner Elk.
Tickets are only sold at the door and cost $12 for general admission and $5 for students and children. LMC students are admitted for free. For more information, call the Hayes Auditorium box office at (828) 898-8709.
Cast and Crew
Lees-McRae’s production of “The Ash Girl” stars Randi Sowards as Ashgirl, Ashley Piercy as Judith, Destini Nichol Fleming as Ruth, Adrienne Reece as Mother, Anna Ashburn as Princess Zehra, Brad Skinner as Prince Amir, Corbin Lee Pickett as Paul, Miranda Hoeft as Slothworm, Michael Waterfield as Angerbird, Anthony McClenny as Greedmonkey/Owl, Zane Talkington as Envysnake, John Brett as Gluttontoad/Man, Tesia Childs as Pridefly, Karen Ecsedy as Sadness, Emma Rose Sheffer as Lust, Wyatt Neff as Fairy in the Mirror, Michael J. Prather as Otter, Mekayla Boswell as Girlmouse and Hayden Tyler Moses as Boymouse.
Anna Ward directs, Danielle Curtis and Drew Wallace are set designers, Curtis is lighting designer, Wallace is sound designer, Michael Rogers is stage manager, Lucas Childress is assistant stage manager, Pam Joslin is playbill coordinator, Casey Courtney, Katie Gesell and Christopher Nelson are run crew, Laren Evans handles wardrobe and props, Tabitha Reeves is light board operator, Nicole Wright is sound board operator, John Hayes is master and on-deck electrician, Katie Gesell and Cassie Schulz work the front of the house, Mindi Bishop, Ethan Henry, Holly Knowles, Emma Sheffer and Randi Sowards are costume stitchers, the LMC performing arts work studies and stagecraft class comprises the construction crew, Karen Ecsedy is dance choreographer, Michael Rogers is fight choreographer and Somber Johnston, Sheffer and others are musicians.