On hearing that the Belfast Maskers are staging the musical “Cinderella” outdoors, some people immediately wonder how they’re going to pull off the pumpkin coach. This company doesn’t have big bucks to spend on special effects, and that is one big special effect. Can they do it?

It turns out they can. They coyly draw us into the classic tale, fasten our car seats and jiggle our imaginations to bring it to life. We can’t help but like Cinderella; the Prince is indeed charming; they seem meant for each other; and young love triumphs! Maybe we don’t actually see a pumpkin turn into a carriage, but we see Cinderella and the Prince drive off in one, and that’s what counts.

“Cinderella” is the Maskers’ second offering on their new Festival Stage in Steamboat Landing Park. It’s hard to imagine a more enjoyable family entertainment for a summer’s evening. Directed by Maskers artistic director Aynne Ames, this is the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical – with one borrowing from Disney’s animated classic – that first was presented in a 1957 telecast. The Maskers have summoned all the humor and romance of the original tweaked by their own invention.

In the title role, Elise Morrow-Schap evinces the knowing innocence and patient longing of all young girls waiting to meet their Prince. Just weeks before, Morrow-Schap, one of the Maskers’ summer interns, brought those same qualities to the character Madge in “Picnic.” This time she also shares a strong, sweet singing voice for her oh-so-hummable songs.

On opening night Morrow-Schap didn’t seem entirely at ease in her big number, “In My Own Little Corner.” The song, which traces her fond flights of fancy, took on an athletic aspect as Cinderella repeatedly traversed the stage area in time to the phrasing, at one point holding her broom like a billiards cue when the lyrics called for a rifle. The energetic recounting of her dreams seemed to leave the poor girl dazed and breathless.

As the Prince, Nicholas Abounader had an easier time delivering his songs. His warm, even baritone paired nicely with Morrow-Schap’s lilting soprano. Also a Maskers summer intern, Abounader cut a handsome figure in costumer Nell Moore’s finery, which is really as much as you expect of a Prince in a story like this. Where Abounader faced challenges is in the script’s rhetorical riffing. “Cinderella” is, after all, a children’s story, and the Prince doesn’t have much to say beyond, “Where is she?” To keep the adults in tow, Oscar Hammerstein II had to supply some credible verbiage for the royals and their subjects.

The Prince’s big number – probably the best-known of the show – is “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” The lyric posed a rhetorical question, and it worked handily for the song. No secrets will be revealed in saying the question is followed by its logical converse, “Or are you beautiful because I love you?” If the song consists of questions, a reasonable lead-in would be some warm-ups. Thus the Prince loosed a volley on the order of, “Why is your hair so perfect?” and “How do you get your teeth so white?” – to the point but none too deep. Abounader played his part with diligent aplomb.

So did Maskers veteran Linda Parent, who lent Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother a nice balance of sobriety and silliness. Always a delight with grandiose dialogue, Parent brought to bear a pleasant singing voice as well. Her big number, which starts off “Impossible,” came with a whole totebag of rhetorical contortions. Cinderella expressed her wish to go to the ball in the pumpkin and hook up with the Prince. “Impossible!” Godmother answered flatly. “However, impossible things are happening every day.”

“Wonderful!” Cinderella responded in so many words. “Let’s do it!”

“Impossible!” Godmother shot back. The number went on (and on) like this until, finally satisfied she has made her point that anything is possible if you wish long and hard enough on your own behalf or words to that effect, Godmother unleashed her powers on the pumpkin and mice and whatnot, and Cinderella was off to the ball.

Cinderella’s Stepmother and Stepsisters provided a hefty share of the show’s comedy. Maskers audiences will remember Linda Leppanen as long-suffering Nancy in last summer’s “Oliver!” This time around she got her licks in as the nasty Stepmother, again using her strong singing voice to good effect. Real-life sisters Savannah and Kendall Szumilas enjoyably portrayed the shrewish Stepsisters.

Matt McDonald – Mr. Bumble in last year’s “Oliver!” – played Cinderella’s father-in-law-to-be, the King. His Queen was Marina Macho, a newcomer to the area who is making her Maskers debut. The two winning vocalists were their own worthy complement.

Choreographing the sizable cast, 35 in all, on the outdoor stage posed challenges to Maskers dancing doyenne Iveagh Gott. Not only did the hoofing take place on different levels, but the surfaces were both wood and grass. Moreover, for the sake of drainage, there are spaces between the planks of the stage area. Assisted by intern Clare Olson, Gott applied her choreographer’s engineering skills to realize several enjoyable dance numbers.

Music direction was apparently the collaborative effort of two popular Midcoast musicians, Mary Anne Driscoll and Lincoln Blake. Overall, the singing quality among the large, all-ages cast was admirably high, especially with the principals. Happily, all was achieved without amplification, which in productions like this is invariably more trouble than it is worth. Kudos to Erik Perkins as the Herald, who did so nicely just what singing Heralds are supposed to do.

On opening night more practiced ears than mine detected off-key singing. Sooner than fault the singers, I would explore whether they can readily get the pitch from the electric piano over the speakers behind the audience. Not that we wanted the electric piano – the show’s only musical accompaniment – any louder. For the most part it sounded like a calliope under a great pile of blankets, and turning up the volume would effectively remove blankets. As engaging as the music is, as expertly as it is played, an electric piano is always the poor relation of some other instrument. Perhaps musicals, particularly ones conceived for a 33-piece orchestra, aren’t meant for outdoor performance.

Despite the challenges it posed to cast and crew, the Maskers’ new Festival Stage was the MVP of “Cinderella.” The concave space established by the floor levels and uprights provided a focus for the action. Moreover, the defined playing area served to locate the sounds and make dialogue more readily audible. Last summer’s “Oliver!” played out in an essentially linear construction that itself necessitated amplification. With “Cinderella” the audience knew where to look and listen.

The Festival Stage also represents exciting design possibilities. Linden Frederick’s concept for the “Picnic” set took advantage of the installation’s scale and stature. Christopher Moore’s set design for “Cinderella” is serviceable in that it shows what is meant to be Cinderella’s house and what is the royal palace. But what identifies the respective spaces is basically wallpaper, and there is little sense of structure. For a palace a balcony seems a natural. A staircase? We look forward to future set designs that expand and elaborate on the installation’s statements.

As the weather permits, “Cinderella” will continue nightly at 7 p.m. through Sunday, Aug. 1, in Steamboat Landing Park beside the Boathouse. The easiest access is from the foot of Miller Street. Folding chairs are provided, and personal lawn chairs can be accommodated. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for teens and $5 for those younger than 13. They are available at Yo Mamma’s Home, 96 Main St., and at the park one hour before performances. For more information, call 338-9668.

Belfast resident William Nelson is a great fan of regional theater.