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Cape Fear Regional Theatre brings a magical Cinderella to the stage

Production team promises illusions, tricks and treats for showgoers.


Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” will grace the Cape Fear Regional Theatre stage  Saturday with preview shows starting Thursday, having already sold out its opening weekend.

The musical centers around the titular character, Cinderella, who lives as a servant and is cruelly treated by her stepmother and stepsisters. But with a newly discovered fairy godmother and a very important glass slipper, Cinderella transforms from a girl who sleeps among the fireplace ashes to a princess who finds her prince.

The magical love story, which runs from through Feb. 18, stars Fayetteville native Mary Mattison, 29, as Cinderella.

Mattison, who grew up performing in over 20 mainstage shows in past theater seasons, and considered the late and incredibly respected CFRT director and founder Bo Thorp to be like a grandmother to her, is excited to be back on the theater’s stage at 1209 Hay St.

“I started out at 6 years old as a baby angel in ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,’” Mattison said. “I was obsessed and came back every year. I found my passion for acting on this stage and made lifelong friends who are also pursuing theater as a career.”

After graduating from Terry Sanford High School in 2013 and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 2017, Mattison moved to New York City. During the summer of 2023, CFRT Artistic Director Mary Kate Burke saw her perform as Ariel in “The Little Mermaid,” at the Opera House Theatre Company in Wilmington and reached out to her to audition for “Cinderella.”

“This is such a great opportunity,” Mattison said. “I couldn’t ask for a better role.” 

She is joined by Kai White, who plays Marie/the Fairy Godmother, and Samantha Parada, who plays Madame, Cinderella’s ruthless stepmother.

Parada most recently portrayed the lead character Morticia Addams in CFRT’s fall 2023 run of “The Addams Family.”

Ashley Nicholl Owen, CFRT’s marketing director, said show director Thomas Caruso will bring tricks and treats to the stage that he picked up from previously working with illusionist David Blaine and other magicians.

“There are magic tricks that happen on the stage,” Owen said. “From a beggar who turns into a fairy godmother to children who turn into mice, the audience has some surprises in store.”

Parada said the entire stage transforms into a world of loveliness and illusion.

“Everything about the costumes, to the set, are unreal and magical,” Parada said.

Mattison said that Caruso likened the character of Cinderella to a dandelion.

“Through the design and set, there is a magic of the natural world and Cinderella is like a dandelion — delicate, sweet and natural,” Mattison said.

The CFRT’s rendition of the classic tale will include iconic songs such as “In My Own Little Corner” and “Ten Minutes Ago,” as well as introduce newer songs from the original movie and stage production.

“It’s just an explosion of wonderful beauty and art,” White said.

Performances through Feb. 18, with 7 p.m. performances on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. performances on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. matinees on Saturdays and Sundays. CFRT has added another showtime at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 4.

Ticket prices range from $19 to $37. There are also a few special events throughout the run of the show, including a PJ Party every Thursday with a complimentary popcorn bar and craft room from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m. On Valentine’s Day, staff will serve specialty drinks and snacks before the show from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m. Military Appreciation Night is Jan. 31 and Teacher Appreciation Night is Feb. 2 with 25% off ticket prices.

A sensory-friendly performance featuring ASL interpretation will take place Feb. 11. Residents from The Friendship House will be assisting in the performance, including two deaf performers on stage. The Friendship House is a residential community for young adults with disabilities and medical students; the residents assisting in the performance have rehearsed for weeks to be a part of the ensemble, Owen said.

For more information, visit www.cfrt.org/cinderella/ or call the box office at 910-323-4233. Cape Fear Regional Theatre is located at 1209 Hay St.

Jami McLaughlin can be reached at jmclaughlin@cityviewnc.com or 910-391-4870.

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