POTOMAC STAGES Thanks to Dan for this information! December 18, 2001 Ė January 12, 2002 Cinderella Reviewed December 20 Running time 2 hours Making a family-friendly stage version of Rodgers and Hammersteinís family-friendly television musical was a great idea. After all, Rodgers and Hammerstein had crafted a piece that had enough charm, enough humor and enough beauty to draw over sixty percent of the entire population of the United States, adults and children, to their televisions. Its too bad that the creators of this national touring productions didnít trust Rodgers and Hammersteinís product enough to try to put the same spirit of the show up on the stage. Instead, they seem to have thought it necessary to add touches from 1950ís Disney cartoons and 1990ís Disney Broadway shows and to up-date itís sound. They even added cute animals (mice, a cat and a dove which are puppets on poles manipulated by black-clad operators) which are more in the spirit of a cartoon than the live Rodgers and Hammerstein show. Storyline: This is a fairly simple re-telling of the fairy tale of "the girl of the cinders," ill-treated by a selfish stepmother and victimized by her two stepsisters. With the help of her Fairy Godmother, she goes to the ball where she and Prince Charming meet and fall in love. She flees as the clock strikes midnight but he tracks her down through the clue of the glass slipper she lost as she fled. This production offers the strong stage persona of Eartha Kitt. She may be playing the Fairy Godmother but sheís all Eartha Kitt. When Cinderella asks why she doesnít have a magic wand she replies "Been there. Done that." The Cinderella in question is Jessica Rush who is practically everything you could ask for in the role. She sings, dances and acts very well and she looks the part too. Her Prince is a strong-voiced, handsome and very charming Paolo Montalban. Thereís a fine supporting cast. One of the strengths of the original was the individuality of the characters such as the King and Queen, the Stepmother and the Stepsisters, each with strong personality traits created in swift broad strokes. Victor Trent Cook is particularly good as the wise cracking servant, Everett Quinton is a smashing Stepmother while the team of Sandra Bargman and NaTasha Yvette Williams sell "The Stepsisterís Lament." Ken Prymus puts a touching affection for his son into the King. Even with all that going for it, the production has some special effects that arenít very special, a set that is less than substantial at times, a skimpy ensemble of singers/dancers, and orchestrations that cover instead of accentuate the great songs of the score. Still, those songs include "In My Own Little Corner," "Ten Minutes Ago," "A Lovely Night," "Do I Love Your Because Youíre Beautiful?" and the added song from another Richard Rodgers show "The Sweetest Sounds." Few musicals have ever had so many lovely melodies. Even with the new orchestrations there are riches here indeed.