Cinderella gets her groove back

“Cinderella” is coming to the Academy of Music this week, and it’s not quite the fairy tale you remember.

In this version, fresh off Broadway, the title character isn’t content to let the prince call the shots.

“She has more power. She makes her own decisions. She chooses to meet the prince, and then she tries to make the prince see the problems going on in the kingdom,” says Blake Hammond, who plays Sebastian, a new character created for this production.

Some of the plot and characters might be new, but the familiar songs from the original Rodgers and Hammerstein show are still intact. “It’s a new version of a classic story,” Hammond says, “but you still get the satisfaction of the Cinderella you know: The pumpkin still turns into a carriage.”

Hammond’s Sebastian raised Prince Topher after the king and queen died, and now he’s ready to get something in return. For character actor Hammond, who’s starred in nine shows on Broadway and several tours, it was a fun departure from his usual roles. “Sebastian is not a good guy,” Hammond says. “He’s in cahoots with the stepmother.

He’s a little darker. I don’t usually play the darker roles, but it’s fun to be manipulative.” That isn’t to say Hammond usually plays a jovial sidekick. He’s portrayed everyone from bald, deathly pale, creepy Uncle Fester in “The Addams Family” to bewigged, padded, over-the-top (and female) Edna Turnblad in “Hairspray.”

“As a character actor,” he says, “You transform.”

Missing Thanksgiving

Hammond will be in Philly over the holiday, away from his family in Texas — but, like all actors, he’s used to that, he says. And there’s an upside to touring: You can’t fall into a rut.

“When you’re in a Broadway show for two years, every day is the same. You come in, go to the same room, sit in the same exact chair to get ready,” he explains. “Touring, it’s a new challenge every week: You get to go to a new theater on Tuesday, meet your new dressers, figure out how long it takes you to get to your entrance and across the stage. It keeps it fresh.”

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