ZACH Theatre partners with Deaf Austin Theatre for Cinderella

by Britni Rachal on February 10, 2023 in Entertainment, Theatre,

An immersive experience is making its way through ZACH Theatre that’s like nothing most audiences have seen. In partnership with Deaf Austin Theatre, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella runs at Topfer Theatre through March 31, creating entertainment that’s accessible for all.

Partly told via American Sign Language (ASL) with captions running across a screen at the back of the stage, some scenes are more silent than you’d see during a typical theatrical production. Other scenes are just as musical as traditionally seen, but include elements made specially for ASL. It’s quite impressive the seamlessness as some of the actors and actresses use ASL and others speak in English.

Sandra Mae Frank as Cinderella with Trey Harrington as Prince Topher. Photo Suzanne Cordeiro.

Easily incorporated into scenic design, the show communicates and entertains well to a variety of audiences. Though the show is recommended for ages six and up, even those very young patrons who can’t yet read can enjoy the show as small whispers of parents can be heard – reading the captions, almost storybook style, to their little ones during ASL parts of scenes.

The sparkly fairytale classic involves a few twists and turns, including an election element and some extra scenes not seen in the original version of Cinderella. The writing is creative and clever and includes a bit of a push for justice among those within the fairy tale scenes and has an overarching theme of “kindness” and “friendship.”

Mervin Primeaux-O’Bryant as Marie/Fairy Godmother. Photo Suzanne Cordeiro.

Mervin Primeaux-O’Bryant captivates the audience with a stunning performance as the “Fairy Godmother” – as Broadway veteran Sandra Mae Frank performs beautifully and elegantly as “Ella”, AKA “Cinderella”, fully utilizing ASL and showcasing such talent among a community that often doesn’t get the chance to actively participate in performing arts.

“One of Deaf Austin Theatre’s missions is to ensure that there is a balanced deaf and hearing cast, and also balanced of deaf and hearing creatives on the production team, when possible,” says Frank.

Sandra Mae Frank communicates via ASL as Cinderella. Photo Suzanne Cordeiro.

“If I had to choose my favorite part, it would be meeting fans after the show and hearing how much the performance has impacted them in many ways of how they see themselves in the characters that I portray or the stories I create. That right there makes me realize I am making an impact. That you can do anything you dream of being if you believe it.”

One of the special things about attending a show at ZACH is that regardless of the night, once the show is over, you often have a chance to wait around to greet the cast via a post-show reception.

Sara Burke as Charlotte, Krissy Lemon as Gabrielle, Sandra Mae Frank as Cinderella, and Meredith McAll as Madam. Photo Suzanne Cordeiro.

The Tony-nominated musical fairytale also includes musical favorites classics, including “In My Own Little Corner”, “Impossible,” and “Ten Minutes Ago.” 

Tickets to ZACH Theatre’s Cinderella can be purchased online.  


 Cover Photo Suzanne Cordeiro

Britni Rachal lives in Austin, Texas. She is a freelance journalist, full-time marketer, and a Realtor®. In addition to writing, Rachal enjoys traveling, event planning, fashion, fitness and serving the Austin community.