Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the opening night of the performance. The show will begin at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre remembers being a little girl and watching Julie Andrews take on the iconic role of Cinderella on television.
"Some of us here, we remember how we felt when we watched it on TV as kids," Burgess-Lefebvre said of the 1957 Rodgers and Hammerstein made-for-TV movie Cinderella.
One thing that production lacked, Burgess-Lefebvre said, was a decidedly strong female role model.
"In this Cinderella, I want her to meet her prince and have the happy ending but also find some strength," she said as the production's dress rehearsal got under way Tuesday night.
This version of the fairy tale, which will open for audiences at 8 p.m. Thursday at RMU's Massey Hall, will find its heroine taking her happily-ever-after into her own hands.
"There's a part where the Fairy Godmother tells Cinderella that she has to take control," Burgess-Lefebvre said. "She can't just wait for everything to just fall into her lap."
The production includes some 21 actors composed of both RMU students and community members, not to mention male cast members in drag portraying the evil stepsisters, she said.
"Everyone's been great," Burgess-Lefebvre said. "And for the summer plays we try to do something very family-friendly for everyone. We do things that are a little bit edgier during the regular school year."
The university's Colonial Theatre, which is a part of its communications program, has hosted summer productions for the last five years.
"We've really learned who our audience is coming to these," said music director Matthew Wolfe. "And we want to give them something to enjoy."
The cast's Queen and Cinderella will host a "royal tea" at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, prior to that evening's performance. Proceeds from the tea will benefit the charity Give Kids the World, which organizes trips for children with terminal illnesses.
Tickets for Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" at Massey Theatre are $10 and available at the door. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.