The Ashgirl

Amy Phillips, Reporter

Each winter, the young thespians of John Burroughs School flock to the black box to try out for
the much anticipated middle school play. This year, director Mr. Battles chose the play The Ash
Girl, a dark twist on the classic Disney story Cinderella, featuring a cast of princes, evil step
sisters, and the seven deadly sins.
“When choosing plays for middle school productions, I usually look for shows that have
a lot of opportunities for students,” Mr. Battles noted, “I think oftentimes, young actors are not
given credit for being able to handle more difficult material, so I always like to challenge them. I
was drawn to The Ash Girl because it's a tale about the beauty and terror of growing up and the
power of hope.”
The play goes back to Brothers Grimm stories, providing students with the opportunity to
take on many roles not commonly seen on the Burroughs stage, with characters such as the Sloth
Worm, Glutton Toad, and Sadness.
The Ash Girl explores some grim themes of self-doubt, body dysmorphia, and loss.
Although heavy, the play certainly draws connections to the struggles of modern day teenagers.
But it’s not just doom and gloom: the play has many light, playful moments sure to trigger the
usual loud, resounding laugh from Battles and more than a few “awws” along the way.
The colorful cast instantly captures the eyes of the audience with an array of costumes
designed by Carla Landis-Evans. In one scene, a glittering dress descends from the ceiling for
Lily Yanagimoto (’23), who stars as Ashgirl, to wear to the ball. The set, built by Brian Connor,
captivates with dark and twisted forests, silk and cushion-adorned palaces, and the lone fireplace
from where Ashgirl resides and earns her nickname.
Now in the thick of tech week and quickly approaching their opening night, Battles is
confident in the show, and, most importantly, the kids. “I am most excited for the cast and crew
to finally have an audience,” he beamed, “They are ready for that energy to drive the play to the
next level.”