RALEIGH — If Cinderella has groupies, its Susan Holbrook and her gang of glass-slipper lovers four generations of family who know every wand-wave in the show.
In 1985, they started a streak of 29 consecutive years with Prince Charming and company, all but one in Raleigh Little Theatres three-decade run.
When their Cinderella run began, Holbrooks daughter Carro was 3. On Thursday night, Carro Syphrit brought her own 3-year-old daughter, Madeline, who has now seen the fairy tale musical four times the first as a 5-week-old infant.
Theyve collected souvenir ornaments, miniature glass slippers and autographed programs. The Angier familys devotion is so strong that on Thursday, the theater comped their tickets, bought them dinner and introduced them to the cast.
I remember when you used to be the Fairy Godmother! said Syphrit, now 31, meeting Cinderella veteran Jo Brown. She used to be my favorite. Her costume was purple, pink and turquoise, and she would drop from the moon.
From the start, Holbrook wanted a tradition.
Her parents were divorced, and her father in Florida hadnt had too much to do with the family. So Cinderella served as girls night out: Holbrook, her daughter and her mother, Beth Jones.
After that, Holbrook said, it was just kind of this thing. It wasnt really a matter of are we going to do it.
Thou shalt not fly
To help explain, Raleigh Little Theatres production of Cinderella has always been fairly eye-popping: moons dropping from the ceiling, godmothers on swings, stepsisters played by men in spectacular drag, their hats big enough to serve as Santas toy sack.
Im the only fairy godmother whos flown, said Brown, now the shows production assistant. OSHA put the kibosh on it. You have to have a harness. Thou shalt not fly.
The show changes every year, and it also follows the lead of Ira David Wood IIIs longtime production A Christmas Carol, mixing in contemporary references such as Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games books.
Holbrook and her family followed the show when it grew out of the Pogue Street theater to Stewart Theater on N.C. States campus, then downtown, then back to Raleigh Little Theater.
They would start telling people when they showed up: Weve been coming since the second year, said Charles Phaneuf, the theaters executive director. If somebody comes every year for 29 years, you should do something nice for them.
One of the Joneses
When they arrived Thursday, full of obscure memories of cast changes, costume changes, scenery changes, theyd been in on Cinderella as long as anybody but Brown and Betsy Bates, a props mistress who like Brown has contributed for all 30 years.
Beth Jones, now 78, motioned to her two great-grandchildren, Bryar and Madeline, and told Brown, If youre here 30 more years, youll still have one of the Joneses here.
Then she took her seat with the rest of her family, right up front in row C, and tacked on another year.