Dan's Review

Although I’m sure 99.99 percent of you can live without this, 
here’s my scathing review (kidding!):

I ended up seeing the show two and a half times (don’t ask), and 
it got better each time.  

Sly, sassy Eartha Kitt really did seem to steal the show each 
time she’s on stage.  She is unbelievably fit and agile for 
someone approaching 75 years of age.  Although she came off kind 
of harsh at times, they gave Cinderella a line to reflect that: 
“With a fairy godmother like you, who needs a Stepmother?”

Jamie-Lynn Sigler was fine in the lead, although there were rare 
moments when she seemed perhaps a little too whiny and wimpy.  A 
few times each night  she’d say her lines in such a baby-girl 
squeeky-high soprano (“It’s the Royal Steward!”), that she 
sounded about three or four years old.  It was puzzling.  
Nevertheless, her singing voice was really wonderful, very clear 
and controlled. 

Paulo did very well of course, especially considering the 
limitations of the stage.  I was wondering how they’d handle the 
number at the Royal Ball, “Ten Minutes Ago”, one of the 
highlights of the 1997 Disney version.  How would they replicate 
that swirling, swooping dance sequence on a comparatively cramped 
stage?  Well, they couldn’t, so the number suffered, but no one 
probably would’ve noticed had they not seen the video.

When a number like that is filmed, the actors pre-record the 
vocals, then lip-synch to the play-back, allowing them to sing 
smoothly while dancing, something extremely hard to do in real 
life.  (Try it sometime -- when no one’s home!).  Even though 
they cut the dance moves to a minimum for the stage version, 
Paulo still had to sing and waltz at the same time, and did 
really well.  His voice was smooth, and he made a rigorous 
sequence seem graceful and effortless.

Of the supporting cast, Brooks Ashmanskas as Lionel, the palace 
steward, stood out head and shoulders above the rest.  He had a 
campy way of delivering a line that made a standard joke very 
funny, and as proof, got some of the biggest laughs in the show.   

Ken Prymus and Leslie Becker made the most of their tiny parts as 
the King and Queen, and got big laughs as well.  It’s a shame 
they didn’t have more to do.

Natasha Yvette Williams was a hoot as the hefty stepsister with 
the persistent itch.  The same can’t be said about Alexandra 
Kolb, who was so nasaly and screechy it was practically 
impossible to understand a word she was saying.  Fortunately, 
she’s a fine singer, and their big number “The Stepsisters 
Lament”, was a hit each night.

I was quite disappointed by Everett Quinton’s performance as the 
Stepmother.  He played her just way too mean, barking at poor 
Cinderella like an arthritic St. Bernard.  

The puppet mice, the dove, and cat were very clever, and as you 
read before, a big hit of the show.  The scene where the mice 
stack themselves four-high to push the door to Cinderella’s 
cottage closed, got a big round of applause.

Most of the sets -- Cinderella’s cottage, the village square, 
even the simplified Royal Palace set were great.  The ballroom 
set was though, as some critics have noted, really pretty awful. 
The grand staircase, which rolled SLOWLY out onto stage when 
Cinderella arrived, was not exactly “grand” -- maybe eight steps 
long? But again, I’m unfairly comparing it to the film version.

The special effects were quite ingenious.  Eartha got a big laugh 
each night when she appeared out of nowhere at the base of a 
tree, practically choking on the clouds of smoke billowing around 
her.  And the sequence when the pumpkin turns into the golden 
carriage was greeted with healthy applause as well.

It took awhile to get used to the orchestrations.  The first 
night I was really distracted by the heavy bass beat added to 
songs like “The Sweetest Sounds”.   The worst example was the 
bizarre arrangement of one of the best songs from the score, “Do 
I Love You Because You’re Beautiful”.  At one point, poor Paulo 
and Jamie-Lynn have to clearly strain to be heard over the 
blasting crescendo of a saxophone and a trumpet.  What is a 
TRUMPET doing in the middle of this tender ballad?  

Most of the other arrangements grew on me by the third 
performance, especially the calypso-style scoring of “A Lovely 
Night”, which not only gave it a fun, festive, party-like feel, 
but in a musical way, emphasized the diversity of the overall 
production.  It was a great number, punctuated with a cute 
singing interlude from the mice and cat.

Anyway, despite some minor bitching, believe it or not, I really 
enjoyed the show.  Paulo, Jamie-Lynn and Eartha all got well 
deserved standing ovations every night.  

Okay, I’ll shut up.