Thanks to Dan for this article!
A review from the Sentinel Theater

Cinderella' isn't quite a shoo-in

The production stumbles when it tries to waltz this fairy tale 
into the 21st century.

By Elizabeth Maupin Sentinel Theater Critic 
Elizabeth Maupin Sentinel Theater Critic 
Posted March 15, 2001, 11:12 PM EST 

Trying to fit Cinderella into a 21st-century sensibility is sort 
of like trying to fit a glass slipper onto a size 15 foot. 

You might be able to do it, but I'm not sure you'd want to try. 

Sure, there's something wonderful about giving Cinderella's king
and queen a multiethnic marriage or having her wicked stepmother
played by a man in drag. 

But there's also something weird about the production in town 
this week, and it can be boiled down to this -- a fairy godmother 
played by Eartha Kitt. 

The ferocious ex-Catwoman, now 74, still can slink and growl with
the best of them. But watching a fairy godmother slink and growl 
is like spending an evening with a mixed metaphor. And hearing 
her spit out Rodgers and Hammerstein as if it had curdled on her
tongue can leave you, too, feeling a little sour. 

Put the '50s, the '60s, the '90s and 2001 into a blender, and 
you'd come up with this national tour of Cinderella, a show that, 
despite its Orlando Broadway Series billing, has never been to 
Broadway. 

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II first wrote the musical
for a 1957 TV special with Julie Andrews in the lead. It was 
remade in 1965 with Lesley Ann Warren and then reworked again in 
1997, this time with additional songs (one with lyrics by 
Cabaret's Fred Ebb), modernized dialogue and all-inclusive 
casting: Whitney Houston as the fairy godmother, Brandy as 
Cinderella, Bernadette Peters as the wicked stepmother and 
Filipino-born Paolo Montalban (no relation to Ricardo) as the
handsome prince. 

That last TV version, with its gumdrop colors and multiracial 
cast, is pretty much the version in Orlando, with the pared-down 
scenery and unmagical effects of a third-rate tour but a cast 
designed to appeal to every demographic. 

You got Kitt. You got the wicked stepmother of Everett Quinton, a 
founder of off-off-Broadway's Ridiculous Theatrical Company and 
famous for his turns in drag. You got the Cinderella of Jamie-
Lynn Sigler, a young star of the hit HBO series The Sopranos. And 
you got Montalban, whose smile is brilliant enough to put a light 
in the eyes of every sexual preference in the house. 

Cinderella's costume and hair designers seem to have had a grand 
old time: Stepmother and stepsisters are turned out in wildly 
elaborate pinks, oranges, purples and greens, and, with their
horn-shaped hairdos, they look like nothing so much as gaily 
colored topiary figures. 

The heroine's devoted cat, mice and dove are played by stick 
puppets, which move cleverly in the hands of six onstage 
puppeteers and upstage the human actors every chance they get. 
And the '50s-style teleplay has been rewritten in '90s 
colloquialisms, to the audience's great delight. "I'm your fairy 
godmother, darling," Kitt says. "You have a problem with that?" 

Most of the cast romps through this stuff -- Ken Prymus's good-
natured king and Leslie Becker's slightly ditsy queen; Victor 
Trent Cook's snappy steward; and especially Quinton's beefy, 
malevolent stepmother and her wonderfully clueless daughters, the 
itchy Grace (NaTasha Yvette Williams) and the cackling Joy 
(Alexandra Kolb). 

Next to this seasoned group, Montalban and Sigler look and sound 
like kids from the mall, with pop-music voices to match. ("Do I 
love you becuz you're beautiful," they both sing.) 

There's no telling whether you'd be able to hear a peep out of 
them without the glaring, treble-heavy sound system. But they're 
sweet-natured and cute, and fan clubs are probably popping up 
right and left. 

Still, this new Cinderella tries to have it both ways -- giving 
its heroine 21st century advice ("take responsibility for your 
own destiny") but marrying it to Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1950s 
songs, creating amusingly modern choreography for the prince's 
ball and then falling back jarringly into a waltz. 

And then there's Kitt, lurking ominously at the edge of the 
action like the evil housekeeper in a Victorian novel, sounding 
like a cement mixer turned up high. Maybe she sells tickets. But 
if I were Cinderella and Kitt were trying to sell something to 
me, I'd run the other way. 

You can reach Elizabeth Maupin at emaupin@orlandosentinel.com or 
at 407-420-5426. 

                         Copyright  2001, Orlando Sentinel