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School of Music

Out of the Soot and onto the Stairs: BYU’s Sold-Out Cinderella

BYU’s Production of Pauline Viardot’s Cinderella Was Performed in an Unexpected Location: The Music Building Lobby

A sold out performance. The first show to be produced in the Music Building lobby. This year’s Spring Opera pleased and challenged audiences in known and new ways. Hear from students and faculty about their experiences that made the real magic behind BYU’s “Cinderella.”

Caroline Busselberg, BYU Graduate Student, in the Title Role of Cinderella
Photo by Kirra Eddington/CFAC External Relations

Caroline Busselberg | Cinderella

Caroline Busselberg, a graduate student in the vocal performance graduate program, played Cinderella.

“It is kind of a surreal thing: growing up watching all the movies, always wanting to be a princess and then getting to do it,” Busselberg said. “I get to wear a pretty dress and be a princess. It has been like a dream come true.”

When talking about the significance of this production at BYU, Busselberg noted, “This particular version is really interesting. It talks about God, a higher power. That is not in any other version. The prince is a pauper at first and Cinderella brings him in and gives him some coins. The sisters shame her a little bit,but Cinderella says, ‘This is godlike, giving to the poor.’ I think it is really beautiful to tie that into being here at BYU. That makes it really unique and special.”

Mckenzie Mulberry |  The Fairy Godmother

Mckenzie Mulberry played the Fairy Godmother, her first main operatic role before starting BYU’s graduate program in vocal performance.

“I love this production,” she said. “ I grew up watching movies with princesses. It is so much fun.”

Talking about her role, Mulberry said, “I have thought of the fairy godmother as a magical creature. She does not abide by the same laws as everybody else. She is a youthful spirit, but I feel like she has been around for 100 years or more and she's seen true love over and over. She's confident and happy to give help to people that have never experienced it before.”

Mark Hanson Plays his First Lead Role as Prince Charming. Here, He Dresses as a Servant to Learn the True Nature of Cinderella’s Household
Photo by Kirra Eddington/CFAC External Relations
In Another Play-Within-A-Play Prince Charming Learns about Cinderella’s Kindness when Disguised as a Pauper
Photo by Kirra Eddington/CFAC External Relations

Mark Hanson | Prince Charming

Mark Hanson, an undergraduate in the vocal performance program, played his first lead role as Prince Charming.

Talking about the balance of romanticism and realism in this classic tale, he said, “I love fairy tales — the simple, romantic nature of them — but I am trying to keep it real. I like to connect it to my experience. I am not married; I have never fallen in love, but I can imagine all these things and connect with that emotion in the character.”

“I think people will enjoy the music,” he continued. “The musical style is very much late romanticism. It is beautiful.”

Camilla Anderson | Armedinde

Camilla Anderson, who has one year left in the undergraduate vocal performance program, played Armelinde, a stepsister.

Speaking on the care put into differentiating each role, Anderson noted, “The step-sisters have their own unique characters. I think Maguelonne, the other stepsister, is more graceful and elegant. I feel like I am more ditzy, flirty, silly and a little awkward.

“I think characters who can bumble about and have a few little awkward moments are really fun to play,” she continued. “The stepsisters have a lot of fun interplay. We are sisters but we are both trying to compete for the prince's attention because we both want to be the princess.”

Anderson enjoyed the light-hearted nature of the show. “As an operetta, it is approachable,” she said. “It is really short and we are doing the English translation. It is a story that everyone knows with a few twists.”

Camilla Anderson (left) Plays Armelinde, a Stepsister in her First Featured Role, Photo by Kirra Eddington/CFAC External Relations
Photo by Kirra Eddington/CFAC External Relations

Samuel Gilbert | Count Barigoule

Samuel Gilbert played his first tenor role as Count Barigoule, the prince’s friend and comic role created for Viradot’s production. His character switches roles with the prince to help the prince get to know others without the pressures of his title.

Gilbert is finishing his first year in the vocal performance program after serving a mission and commented on how his service, and the vocal program holding a spot for him, meant he was able to present his best voice.

“When I got home for my mission in Brazil, I was told that I might not be a baritone anymore,” he said. “Had I not gone on my mission or had I done it at a different time of my life, I may have been studying baritone repertoire for all four years of my undergrad and then realized I had to relearn my technique. I am thankful for being guided by the spirit and BYU faculty to make that transition and I think it's given me a different perspective that I otherwise wouldn't have. I am making my premiere as a tenor and that's so exciting for me. This role has been a stretch for me but a great learning experience.”

A Student Orchestra was Stashed Beneath the Stairs for BYU’s Cinderella
Photo by Kirra Eddington/CFAC External Relations

Shea Owens | Director of Opera

This production was the first to be staged in the Music Building Lobby.

“There were a lot of challenges as far as the venue,” said Shea Owens, vocal professor in the School of Music and Director of BYU Opera. “The Concert Hall was off limits because they're installing the new pipe organ and the Main Stage over at West Campus was unavailable because they're doing a production right now and there wasn't another space. So I was walking through the Music Building one day and I thought, ‘Could we do it here?’

“It certainly presented some logistical challenges. Where do we put the orchestra? What do we do about lighting? What do we do about people coming and going? These are all questions we've had to explore and we worked out.”

Owens said the operetta came to mind because of another experience when a company was overcoming production challenges. He was a member of a singing ensemble in Switzerland during the pandemic. Cinderella was performed outdoors as the first production post-pandemic. It was for those who had bought season tickets when they thought there would be the usual performance. Though ticket holders had been offered refunds, many donated their purchases to the company and the company performed “Cinderella” as a thank you.

“It was the first production for us, post-pandemic and was a way of saying, ‘We're moving forward, we're able to create art again,” Owens said. “I love this piece. It came to mind and it fit our voices.”