ZACH Theatre, in partnership with Deaf Austin Theatre (DAT), presents Rodgers + Hammerstein’s “Cinderella,” now through March 5th, with a cast and crew of deaf and hearing actors.

Co-Directed by Producing Artistic Director of the Lyric Theatre Michael Baron and DAT Artistic Director, Dr. Brian Cheslik, The Tony®-nominated musical fairytale Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella will come to life in The Topfer to start the New Year for 2023.

This fresh new musical and family favorite will be performed in both American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken English with supertitles artistically incorporated into the scenic design, and a fully-inclusive experience from the time patrons arrive at the theatre.

Broadway veteran SANDRA MAE FRANK (Deaf West’s Spring Awakening) plays the title role of Ella. Sandra recently was Co-Director (with Michael Baron) of the critically-acclaimed production of “The Music Man” at Olney Theatre in Maryland and can currently be seen as Dr. Elizabeth Wilder on “New Amsterdam” on NBC.

“Since beginning pre-production work, I immediately found that we share theatrical mindset. It’s been an amazing collaborative and directing partnership that I hope leads to future endeavors between Deaf Austin Theatre and ZACH as well as Deaf Austin Theatre and Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, which is where Michael is based as artistic director,” expressed director Dr. Brian Cheslik. “This production is so important because it provides a space for deaf performers who have long been ignored in this industry. It will help people to realize that yes, deaf people can enjoy music and perform in musicals too. We can do anything hearing people can do…even here! We just do it a different way.”

“Collaborating with both deaf and hearing artists on musicals has been a rewarding and constantly creative process. Sandra Mae Frank and I recently co-directed a deaf/hearing production of “The Music Man” in Washington, DC.,” said director Michael Baron. The process of working on that show was revolutionary in that for the first time the deaf perspective was of equal or of greater importance to the interpretation of the material. Many of the deaf artists who worked on “The Music Man” are a part of this company of “Cinderella” – including my co-director, Sandra Mae Frank. She is returning to the stage in the lead role of Cinderella. Creating this production will be challenging, joyous, heartfelt, and full of discoveries – but one, I
promise, you love and remember for years to come.”

On why bringing “Cinderella” to the stage was important, ZACH Producing Artistic Director Dave Steakley said, “With over 50,000 deaf and hard of hearing residents in Austin, I want to make sure ZACH is serving the members of our community, especially the students at Texas School for the Deaf. It occurred to me that Rodgers + Hammerstein’s newer Broadway adaptation of Cinderella would be a good story because this version puts her in the driver’s seat of her life’s journey. Likewise, I want us to produce a work that puts our deaf director, choreographer, actors and production team in control. It has been a very exciting process so far, and I know the result will be a highly original interpretation of this classic tale that is joyous and moving in its inclusivity.””

Steakley continued, “Brian Cheslik is the leading deaf director in our state and he knows ZACH well as he has signed many of our performances over the years. It made sense to pair him with Michael Baron, who is at the forefront of productions which collaborate between ASL and English, having helmed several productions across the country as the hearing director. The creativity is sparking between these two great artists.”

Tickets start at $25 available at ZACH’s box office. The show is recommended for ages 6 and up, and the run time is about 2 hours, with a 20-minute intermission.

Keep an eye out for Sandra; she has a new movie in the works, shot in Malta, called “The Silent Hour.” You can keep up with her roles on stage, in TV and in movies on Instagram: @SandraMaeFrank.