The Story Behind the Photo: "Ella Enchanted: The Musical"

Tania Thompson
 | Oct 29, 2020
Ella Enchanted
Ann Noble, Joel Gelman, Ella Saldana North, Caitlyn Calfas and Arielle Fishman in Ella Enchanted: The Musical by Karen Zacarías (2017, Theatre for Young Audiences Family Series). Photo by Debora Robinson.

About Ella Enchanted

As a baby, Ella is given the “gift” of obedience by a misguided fairy and cannot disobey any order. Now a teenager, the strong-willed Ella must outwit her evil stepmother, escape hungry ogres and hold on to her best friend, all while getting rid of the troublesome curse and finding her own voice. Delightful music and plenty of girl power abound in this wonderfully modern and musical Cinderella story.

Actor Ella Saldana North has been in a handful of productions at South Coast Repertory—the majority being Theatre for Young Audiences Family shows. Among her favorites is SCR’s 2017 musical retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale, Ella Enchanted: The Musical, where North portrayed Ella. She selected the photo above as an important moment from the play.

What moment does this depict?

Ella Saldana North: It marks the beginning of Ella's hard times. Her mom, whom she adored, has just died, and this strange woman [Dame Olga, left] and her two daughters suspiciously show up at the funeral. The woman starts overtly flirting with Ella’s Dad, which is so inappropriate since he just lost his wife and, well...the rest is fairytale history.

What’s the power about this moment?

ESN:  I think it comes from the great juxtaposition of these two people [Ella and her Dad] grieving by a headstone, with Dame Olga and her daughters: larger-than-life, dressed to impress and who clearly are outsiders. Both Ella and her Dad are looking at Olga like, "Who are you and what do you want?" Meanwhile, Olga grins from ear to ear because she is that confident about her manipulative and cunning skills.

What else would you like to say about Ella Enchanted?

ESN: This production was so beautiful—and looking at this picture makes me miss live theatre even more than I already do! I feel very blessed to have played Ella in and to have been able to work with this fabulous cast.