Article from The Arizona Republic Thanks to Dan for this information! Latest 'Cinderella' sets definitive stage By Kenneth LaFave The Arizona Republic June 28, 2001 Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella has been repackaged off and on since its first appearance in 1957 as a television musical starring Julie Andrews. There were two TV remakes (1965 with Lesley Ann Warren, and 1997 with Brandy), plus various stage versions starting in the 1960s and leading up to a New York City Opera production in the 1990s. The fairy-tale musical's latest incarnation, a lavish staging that updates the material without adulterating it, opened Tuesday night at Gammage Auditorium. It proved to be that rarest of successes: a dusted-off musical that shines as bright as or brighter than theoriginal. Director Gabriel Barre has pushed everything about the show to the top, without ever quite going over. The Stepmother is meaner, the stepsisters are goofier and the lovers are sweeter than ever before. And then there's Eartha Kitt. She's billed as the Fairy Godmother, though in truth she plays herself. As feline and as earthy as ever (was anyone's name ever better suited?), Kitt makes her character's few lines and two songs into a star turn. No sugary presence, Kitt's Fairy Godmother is a slithering, questioning demigoddess who grants Cinderella her wish only when the little dear is "ready to take responsibility for her destiny." Did we mention there was a new script? The new book, by Tom Briggs, updates the dialogue to a contemporary sensibility, while new musical arrangements by Andrew Lippa tinker considerably with Rodgers' tunes. All this works because Cinderella is one of only two true musical comedies Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote. (The other was Me and Juliet.) The rest of their works were musical plays, in which the songs speak of time and place as well as character. You couldn't back the music in Oklahoma! with a Latin beat, or put 21st-century jargon into the mouth of Anna in The King and I. But Cinderella's second-act song, A Lovely Night, works well as a rhumba, and it's only right that the Prince and his steward talk like friends who live down the street. Jamie Lynn Sigler is the title character. A musical-comedy actress long before her role as Meadow Soprano on HBO's Sopranos made her famous, Sigler cradles the songs lovingly, and acts the wide-eyed innocent convincingly. Paolo Montalban repeats his role as Prince Christopher from the 1997 TV version. An exceptionally fine Broadway singer, he lifts the show's best tunes - Ten Minutes Ago, Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful? - into the stratosphere. The Stepmother is Everett Quinton. As with every drag role ever performed, this one's campy, but Quinton is something else as well: scary. The stepsisters, played by Alexandra Kolb and NaTasha Yvette Williams, push the envelope of broad comedy almost to the limit. Ken Prymus and Leslie Becker are the now-bickering, now-cuddling king and queen. The prize for the show's best comic double takes goes to Victor Trent Cook as the Prince's steward, Lionel. And he sings one heckuva powerful high note at the end of The Prince Is Giving a Ball, to boot. As in the 1997 TV remake, the show opens with The Sweetest Sounds, culled from Rodgers' 1962 show (no longer done), No Strings. And, like the remake, this production ends with another borrowed song, the gorgeous and obscure There's Music in You, written by Rodgers and Hammerstein for a forgotten 1953 movie. It gives Kitt another chance to sing, and puts the capper on what may be, at last, the definitive version of this patchwork musical.