by: COURTESY PHOTO: FRANK HUNT - Prince Charming (David VanDyke, kneeling with pillow) lets Cinderellas mean stepmother (Heather Sutherland) try on the glass slipper as he hunts for the mystery girl who disappeared from the ball, while King Darling III (Caleb Kinder of Forest Grove, far right) and the rest of the cast look on during the Stages youth performance of Cinderella.  In Stages Performing Arts Youth Academy’s production of “Cinderella,” the heroine’s fairy godmother’s humorous re-telling of Cinderella’s journey to the perfect fit is sprinkled with dance and song.

Faced with day after day of never-ending chores to care for her unkind stepfamily, for example, Cinderella can’t help but question the universe by singing, “What’s to Become of Me?” The lament is shared by her future “sole-mate,” Prince Darling, as he’s faced with the duty of choosing a bride by midnight on his 21st birthday, or his father, King Darling III will find one for him.

King Darling III, played by Forest Grove resident Caleb Kinder, is a nearsighted King who doesn’t always know where he is or who he’s talking to. For Caleb, who caught the acting bug while playing Rumpelstiltskin at Fern Hill Elementary in fourth grade, playing a character like King Darling has been a fun challenge, especially since he had no prior singing or dancing experience. Caleb’s mom, Ossie Kinder, said the role has “pushed him to explore his talents and has opened his eyes to more aspects of the performing arts.”

Donald Cleland, co-founder of Stages and director of “Cinderella” (The Prince Street Players Ltd. version), said he expects high-quality performance from his actors. “Kids are capable of a lot more than we sometimes give them credit for,” he said. In addition, “There is so much more to directing children than just working on what goes on the stage. We work hard at teaching them what goes on behind the curtains, how we expect them to treat each other, and the importance to have a great deal of respect for the audience.”

Caleb loves developing his character and interacting with the rest of the cast. According to his mother, “Caleb enjoys building camaraderie with his fellow actors. He feels like Stages has provided him with a second home and a second family where he feels safe, and is able to grow both as a person and as an actor.”

A fun, entertaining play to rehearse is a big part of the bonding experience.

And this “Cinderella” version is “full of fun humor, outlandish characters, and comedic musical numbers,” Cleland said. “Younger kids will truly enjoy the magical story, but the humor is enjoyable for all ages. Audiences will experience lots of laughter and delight.”

Caleb agrees: “My favorite thing about performing in ‘Cinderella’ is making people laugh!”

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