From her own little corner near Tooele, actress Joanna Johnson, appearing soon in the Broadway touring production of “Cinderella,” knew she wanted to live in New York City.

“I decided early on that this is what I wanted to do, and I’ve always loved visiting New York in high school and college,” Johnson said in a phone interview. “I enjoy being there, but I’m so excited to be doing this show in Salt Lake — showing my hometown to my castmates and showing my friends what I’ve been doing.”

What she’s been doing is akin to asking one’s Fairy Godmother for a dream come true: Johnson has been touring in “Cinderella” as one of the stepsisters.

“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to book the jobs I’ve booked and to have met the people I’ve been able to work with,” she said.

After graduating from Utah State University, Johnson worked locally.

“I performed with Pioneer Theatre Company,” she said. “I was also a dresser there which was a lot of fun to do.”

She did a couple of seasons at Tuacahn with moves back to New York City in between. Then she went to an open casting call for the “Cinderella” touring show. After a two-month audition process, she got the part.

“I’m loving living on the road," she said. "It’s not always glamorous, but it’s a lot of fun. If the show weren’t as fun to do, it would be a lot harder.”

This tour, opening Tuesday, May 30 at Eccles Theater, is the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical adaptation of the classic tale, originally written for television in 1957. Julie Andrews played the title role and the musical was broadcast live on CBS. Most recently, the beloved classic was revamped and opened on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning revival in 2013, featuring a new book by Douglas Carter Beane.

“I’m so happy I get to participate in this; it’s the new script,” Johnson said. “It has updates; it’s slightly more modern. Cinderella isn’t just a pretty face. She’s smart, she’s motivated and she’s independent.”

Johnson is also enjoying the new aspects of her character as a stepsister.

“I think you can tell in the writing that Douglas Carter really liked writing for my character,” she said. “He enjoyed writing in her voice, and I’m the happy beneficiary of that.”

Most folks will recognize a number of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes: “In My Own Little Corner,” “Ten Minutes Ago,” “Stepsisters Lament” and “Do I Love You?” but this new version has a few surprises.

Carter and the production crew went into the Rodgers and Hammerstein vault and pulled some unused songs from “South Pacific” and other shows and worked them into the Cinderella story.

“It’s so much fun to be able to do new Rodgers and Hammerstein material. It’s a pretty unique experience,” Johnson said. “I was anxious to hear them in rehearsal. You hear it and, even though you know those are the different songs, they’re beautiful R and H songs and they fit very well. They just feel very comfortable in the show. They’re gorgeous.”

And as far as those magical moments that make “Cinderella” a favorite fairy tale, Johnson, who is contractually obligated not to divulge any details, noted, “The transformations are stunning. They are the elements that you want from ‘Cinderella.’ The pumpkin to carriage and rags to riches — they’re all there.”

The cast and crew have been on the road for nine months, and Johnson is eager to show off her hometown.

“I’m taking everyone to the Red Iguana,” she said. “I want to go on that hike that goes back behind the capitol. If we can, I’d like to go to Park City and do the Alpine Slide. And, actually, a lot of the cast are interested in genealogy so we’ll probably head to the family history museum. We’re really excited, and the weather should be perfect. I love Salt Lake.”

If you go …

What: "Cinderella"

When: May 30-June 4, times vary, matinees available

Where: Eccles Theater, 131 S. Main Street

How much: $30-$105

Phone: 801-255-2787


Erica Hansen was the theater editor at the Deseret News for more than three years. An area performer, she was also the original host of the radio program "Showtune Saturday Night."