Simpson Productions presents Cabildo and Cendrillon


Photo by Simpson Productions

Carson Clark is the Barker, Tanner Striegel is Tom, and Lyza Cue is Mary in Cabildo.

by Jenna Prather, News Editor

Simpson Productions, the theater, opera and musical theater collaboration at Simpson College, presents a double-bill opera performance of Cabildo and Cendrillon.

Conducted by Dr. Bernard McDonald, Associate Professor of Music, and directed by Kara Raphaeli, Professor of Theatre Arts, these two women-penned operas are sure to captivate the audience.

“They mesh,” Raphaeli said. “They both have an element of adventure, in the fantasy quality of the dream in Cabildo along with the fantasy quality of the Cinderella [Cendrillon] story.”

Miranda Young is Prince Charming in Cendrillon. (Photo by Simpson Productions)

The production will begin with Cabildo which tells the story of a group of tourists, mainly newlyweds Mary (Lyza Cue) and Tom (Tanner Striegel) who tour the cell where the notorious pirate, Pierre Lafitte, was imprisoned during the War of 1812. The Barker (Carson Clark) tells the story of Pierre (Owen Neumann) and his beloved Lady Valerie (Kathryn Frady), and then leads the group to another part of the Cabildo. However, Mary remains in the cell, pondering the means of Pierre’s escape. She falls asleep and dreams the answer.

While originally written in 1932, the theater has brought the story forward in time to 2023 so the audience only has to time travel once.

“We didn’t see a need to go back to the ‘30s and then afterwards, go back to 1812,” Raphaeli said.

While the story is entirely fictionalized, Pierre Lafitte was a real historical figure, and a controversial one at that.

“He kind of amassed all of his money by buying and selling and capturing slaves,” Cue said. “So, Mary is a social media influencer, who has this dream about Pierre and then she goes online and tells everybody about the dream she’s had. And at the end of the show, she gets canceled on Twitter because we didn’t want to kind of romanticize who he really was.”

“My favorite part is the way in which our chorus and our main characters as tourists in the Cabildo inhabit this space and engage in tourism,” Raphaeli said. “But also learn a little bit of a history lesson about American history, specifically, the history of New Orleans.”

There is an intermission between the two operas, but what really defines the transition is the tonal change.

“The first opera is a little more serious in its topic,” Raphaeli said. “Love and loss and our American history and the way that slavery fits into our American history. But we have found a way through direction and through the acting to end us on a serious note but also with a quality of whimsy. And so, the goal is for that whimsy and that playfulness to then take us through into the more lighthearted fantasy story of Cendrillon.”

You can get your tickets online at eventbrite or buy them at the door.

Cendrillon is a retelling of Cinderella, with a few twists and turns along the way. The evil stepmother is replaced by a clueless father and the Fairy Godmother actually appears as a guest at the party and entertains the guests with a song.

Cendrillon, or Marie, is played by Allison Blades and her prince charming is played by Miranda Young.

“The prince actually trades places with his chamberlain because the prince wants to find somebody that loves him for more than just his crown,” Cue, who has roles in both productions, said. “He still ends up falling in love with Cinderella but it’s just a little less shallow than the original story in that way.”

The opera opens on Friday, Feb. 17. in Pote Theatre in Blank Performing Arts Center. It will run Feb. 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. and again on Feb. 19 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $20.00 for adults, $17.50 for seniors and non-Simpson students, $16.00 for group (10 or more) tickets, and free for Simpson students with IDs.

“Expect a good time,” Raphaeli said. “I mean, honestly, that is the truth. When you go in to see any kind of performance keep an open mind and keep an open heart. Because connecting with the story is also part of the experience.”