Cinderella in Court: Upcoming Fairy Tale Trial from William & Mary

  • Past Productions
    Past Productions  In 2011, for example, law students helped stage the mock proceedings for local fifth graders. Included, from left, Bailey Woolfstead (Defense Counsel), Adele Young (Gretel), Michelle Sudano (Fairy Godmother), Melanie Fradette (Cinderella's stepmother), Nandor Kiss (Prince Charming), and Janet Sully (Cinderella). Alumna Rhianna Shabsin, far right, who was the Roger Strand CLCT Postgraduate Fellow in 2011, served as the Plantiff's Counsel.  
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Starting this Saturday at 2 P.M. at the Kimball Theatre, William & Mary Law School's Once Upon a Crime trials are now open to the public for the first time.  

Once Upon a Crime trials are based on commonly known fairy tales given unexpected twists. The productions are staged as jury trials in which the audience serves as the jury. The cases are designed to educate while entertaining.

Law student Janet Sully played Cinderella in a 2011 productionSaturday's matinee, which will be repeated on next Saturday on September 20th at 7:30 P.M., is Grimm v. Cinderella, a libel case. Cinderella's stepmother is suing Cinderella for the descriptions of the stepmother's alleged cruelty in her best-selling autobiography, Cinders in my Eyes. Rumor has it that Sleeping Beauty and others may make an appearance.

Grimm v. Cinderella will be followed by 2:00 P.M. matinee performances on next Saturday, September 20th, and Sunday, September 21st of Kingdom v. Pigge, an attempted homicide prosecution. The Crown alleges that the defendant, owner of a red brick condo, tried to kill Mr. Wolfe, a desperate magazine salesman, by boiling.

Except for the trial judge, the cast of Once Upon a Crime is made up of law students affiliated with William & Mary Law School's Center for Legal and Court Technology.  A number have professional acting and directing backgrounds.

"Learning about the law can be fun," said Fred Lederer, Chancellor Professor of Law at William & Mary Law School and trial judge for the pending cases. "We hope to let the public see how our legal system works, and we do it in a truly interactive and entertaining way."

Once Upon a Crime started as a public service effort to help educate K-12 students about the legal system. The original cases, written by Professor Lederer, were well received locally and elsewhere. The trials, still available to school classes by special arrangement, are conducted at the Law School's McGlothlin Courtroom. "Kids just love them," said Greg Marinelli, a third-year law student, who acts as one of the trial lawyers. "They love the interaction. They take the case seriously, and it's always great to watch them reach a verdict." Realizing that the cases are also attractive to adults, the cast decided to launch theatrical performances at the Kimball. Professor Lederer notes that they are looking for light-hearted jurors of all ages.

Grimm v. Cinderella will be at the Kimball Theater on Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg Saturday, September 13, at 2:00 P.M. and Saturday, September 20, at 7:30 P.M.

Kingdom v. Pigge, will be presented Saturday and Sunday, September 20 and 21 at 2:00 P.M.

Ticket: Adults (18 & over): $8.00; W&M students with id: $5.00. All others: $4.00. Proceeds will be used for support of CLCT student activities.

About William & Mary Law School

Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.