Despite being an ancient culture-crossing fairy tale, it's always been hard to pinpoint the exact setting for the Cinderella story.
There were versions of the tale written in Egypt 1,500 years ago, and similar stories can be found in the Arabian, Japanese and Chinese cultures.
The Cinderella story we know dates to 17th-century France, although the location of the cottage where the fair maiden stepsister is forced to toil is never revealed.
That single bit of intentional ambiguity allows those who step forward to retell the tale the freedom to set Cinderella's story anywhere they choose.
In the case of the Townsend Opera staging of "Cinderella" at the Gallo Center for the Arts on April 19 and 21, think about that magical land just east of Manhattan.
"We're updating it to current-day Brooklyn," said Matthew Buckman, managing director of the opera company. "It's a Brooklyn-New Jersey-esque kind of thing, but it's not site-specific. There will be no direct references to Brooklyn, but there will be a Jersey Girls feel. The personalities of the step-sisters are taken directly from Snooki (of 'Jersey Shore' fame). That will be fun."
A cast of Townsend production newcomers, including Kindra Scharich as Cinderella, Marco Stefani as Prince Ramiro and Austin Kness as the prince's valet, will be interpreting the Rossini composition "La Cenerentola," which debuted in Italy in 1817.
"We wanted a story that not only connected with the community but also was going to be a fun musical production to do," Buckman said. "Rossini put a lot of musical fireworks into this. It's very explosive and fun to listen to. The story itself is entertaining, but the way we're doing it makes it extra-funny."
The setting creates staging opportunities, as well as challenges.
The prince really isn't a prince with a castle, but he can be a rich playboy in a penthouse. While you will see horse-drawn carriages around Central Park in real life, this prince scoots around in a stretch limo.
Even Cinderella's evil stepmother can be replaced in this case by a stepfather, a broken and bitter former wise guy.
"The fairy tale itself has a lot of variety built-in," Buckman said. "The opera doesn't use a glass slipper he's looking for a match to a bracelet that he has, so that replaces the slipper. The stepfather is more of a 'Godfather'-type here a washed-up gangster type in a wife-beater shirt. It's a fun take on his character.
"There are definitely some updates here, but this story is so familiar that you can do fun tellings of it, like this, and not lose the core values of the story."
Buckman said there's no doubt the Cinderella story certainly will shine through, even through the tweakings in the telling of the tale. And despite the transportation of the setting from Italy to what might as well be the Jersey Shore, this remains very much a family show.
"It's definitely family friendly despite some adult themes in the story itself," Buckman said. "For people who want their kids to see 'Cinderella,' even in an updated setting with modifications, the core of the story is still the same.
"At its base, it's still a fairy tale and a love story. That's still there, but Rossini couched it with so much humor along the way."
Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek.
WHAT: Townsend Opera performs Rossini's Cinderella
WHEN: April 19, 7:30 p.m. and April 21, 2 p.m.
WHERE: Rogers Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts
TICKETS: $10 to $62