News • March 29, 2023

Bringing the magic of ‘Cinderella’ to life

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Riverside, Calif. (March 29, 2023) – The theatre program at California Baptist University has been busy preparing for the magic of “Cinderella” — both on stage and behind the scenes. The production of the Broadway adaptation of the classic musical opens March 31.

The show relies on bringing a fairytale-esque quality to the stage.

“The behind-the-scenes aspect is super important in this one because you have so many magical effects,” said Lisa Lyons, the show’s director and adjunct professor of theatre. “Both Cinderella and the fairy godmother do a magical costume change on stage in front of the audience. Then of course a pumpkin turns into a carriage … so many things. So costume-wise and set-wise, there are crazy things that have to happen.”

Machir Lakofka, the show’s costume designer, has been working on the design of the costumes since the read-through of the script, which took place at the first rehearsal in January. Early in the process, she counted characters, identified costume changes throughout the show and took measurements for cast members.

Initially, Lakofka considered renting costumes, but she decided against it.

“I’ve learned, being here seven years, that if you can build it for the same price, you might as well. Then you can cater it exactly for the needs of your own production,” she said.

Lakofka sketched out ideas for Lyons, drawing inspiration from the actual script as well as from historical garments, museum reproductions and other productions of “Cinderella.”

She asked the director her preference on costumes — on a scale from quirky “Into the Woods” to historical “Ever After.”

“That really gives me a jumping off point so I’m able to make decisions that make me happy and make her happy,” Lakofka said.

Lakofka settled on a Renaissance and cavalier look for the costumes.

The greatest challenge lay in the engineering of the magical transformations. Lakofka had to figure out a way to make transformation possible by researching other people’s processes and going through her own trial and error.

“How do you transform the rag outfit for Cinderella into her ballgown?” Lakofka said. “How do you underdress her? If she’s wearing both dresses at the same time, how do you make it not look absurd?”

To steer around this hurdle, Lakofka dressed members of the ensemble in a bum roll — a foundation garment that acts as a shelf at the lower back — to ensure they have the same silhouette as Cinderella when she has one skirt bustled up in back to conceal it.

Regardless of the challenges, Lakofka enjoys putting together the elaborate Renaissance looks. These designs also require matching hair and makeup. Jennifer Palacios, a theatre senior, is hair and makeup designer. While she is new to the role, she has drawn on her own research and experience as an actress in “Joyful Noise,” a period piece produced last semester.

This show, like “Joyful Noise,” uses wigs, so Palacios has had to prep wigs for all the principal actresses.

“I think the largest obstacle perhaps is the amount of women that I have to make wigs for because we have some really nice wigs, but we only have a few of those,” Palacios said. “I’ve been needing to pull other wigs that aren’t so pretty and trying to make them look beautiful.”

Wigs add a unique dynamic to hair and makeup prep. During the show, someone must be ready backstage to help with quick changes since several characters have to change from one wig to another. There are a lot of pins and a wig cap to manage.

“It’s more complicated than it looks,” Palacios said.

Palacios also had to teach the cast members how to do makeup for the show. She usually gathers the actors together to do an in-person makeup tutorial on a volunteer so they can all do it together.

Like Lakofka, she drew inspiration from period pieces, such as Netflix’s “Bridgerton.” She also looked to Zayn Malik’s hairstyle in One Direction’s “Night Changes” video for inspiration for Prince Charming’s hairstyle.

To coordinate their work, the behind-the-scenes designers met weekly with the director to discuss ideas and to ensure that they executed the director’s vision. Ultimately, they all want the audience to walk away with a sense of magic and belief that dreams do come true.

“In the day and age that we live in with computers and fantastical movie things, it is hard to impress an audience with things that are happening in the theatre,” Lyons said. “We want it to be magical, of course, but it is theatre. We don’t have the same capabilities as a movie. We just want to make it unique and different, so it makes people excited about it.”


When: 7:30 p.m. March 31, April 1, April 13-15; 2 p.m. April 1, 15

Where: Wallace Theatre, California Baptist University, 8432 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, CA, 92504

For tickets or more information, please visit



Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504