Courtesy Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre

Will the glass slipper fit? Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre brings back ‘Cinderella’

Ugly stepsisters, shape-shifting mice and rags-to-riches dreams fulfilled.

All the irresistible fairy-tale guilty pleasures take the stage later this month when Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre (BRBT) presents its original production of Cinderella. Choreographed by BRBT co-artistic director Sharon Mathews to the classic score composed by Sergei Prokofiev, the ballet showcases the talents of top-notch local dancers along with national guest artists in lead roles.

Elegant numbers, some with comedic touches, define this version of the famed program. Yes, it’s perfectly fine—encouraged, even—to come clad in princess costumes. Expect to also find Cinderella-themed merch in the River Center Performing Arts Theatre lobby, organizers say.

The show is BRBT’s sixth production of Cinderella since Mathews choreographed the original performance in 2003. Local audiences last saw it staged in 2018.

Mathews says she drew on “Prokofiev’s beautiful score” to create the movements, incorporating classic choreography along with inventive flourishes.

“It was a lot of hard work and a lot of research on other productions,” Mathews says. “I had been reading about how Prokofiev wanted to make Cinderella a real person with real feelings who has to go through many obstacles to get to the dream-like ending.”

Amid Cinderella’s intricate music and glamour, BRBT’s version also incorporates the humor seen in other worldwide versions. Mathews was inspired by the work of 20th-century British ballet dancer and choreographer Frederick Ashton, who was the first to cast men as the Ugly Stepsisters. BRBT’s version follows, with dancers Kyle Harless and Jackson Pierce in the iconic roles.

“It’s funny,” Mathews says. “It uses slapstick comedy.”

Mathews also created completely original roles, like “Pumpkin Patch Lassies and Lads,” portrayed by younger dancers, and the character, Mrs. Pickles, who serves as a narrator and even brings out the glass slipper for spontaneous try-ons among spectators.

Ninety-five dancers are cast in the show, most of whom are local dancers accepted into BRBT’s company. Professional guest artists perform as well, including Leigh Anne Albrechta and David Senti from the Louisville Ballet as Cinderella and Prince Charming.

The role of Lord Chamberlain will be played by local dancer Leonard Augustus, who fans of BRBT’s The Nutcracker – A Tale from the Bayou will recognize from the role of Drosselmeyer.

The show’s costumes were designed by noted national costume designer Ray Delle Robbins, who created attire for Houston Ballet, New Paltz Ballet Theatre and numerous theater companies around the country. Robbins also designed looks for The Nutcracker – A Tale from the Bayou.

Mathews says that BRBT’s version of Cinderella is accessible and family friendly.

“I think it’d be a wonderful performance for people to see who have never been to a ballet,” she says. “It’s very entertaining.”

Molly Buchmann and Sharon Mathews have led BRBT since 1976. Photo courtesy BRBT.

Cinderella marks the final production for Mathews and fellow co-artistic director Molly Buchmann, who have led BRBT since 1976. With the creation of their popular annual The Nutcracker – A Tale from the Bayou performance, and the establishment of their dance academy, Dancers’ Workshop, the two helped raise the bar on dance excellence in Baton Rouge. Longtime BRBT staff members and dance instructors Rebecca Acosta and Jonna Cox will succeed Buchmann and Mathews.

“I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to do it. It was an honor to do it,” Buchmann says. “And it’s an honor to be able to step aside.”

While they will no longer be involved in the BRBT’s day-to-day operations, Buchmann and Mathews will continue to own and operate Dancers’ Workshop, which provides a wide range of instruction to dancers of all ages, particularly serious young people. But adults can take lessons, too. In fact, Buchmann teaches ballet classes for adults of different ability levels and will continue to do so, even after retiring from BRBT.

“As far as I know, we’re one of the only places in the city that has ballet classes for adults,” she says.

Last December, Molly Buchmann and Sharon Mathews took their final bows on the ‘Nutcracker – A Tale From the Bayou’ stage as BRBT’s artistic directors. Photo by Eye Wander Photo / Courtesy BRBT.

Performances of Cinderella will take place at the River Center Performing Arts Theatre on April 20-21 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now through, the Raising Cane’s River Center Arena box office or by calling BRBT at 225-766-8379. Prices range from $27-$47. According to the organization, many unauthorized ticket outlets have attempted to sell BRBT tickets in the past for inflated prices, so the public should be mindful when buying tickets. Visit for more info.

This article originally appeared in 225 magazine’s 225 Daily newsletter.