Thanks to Dan for this article!
A review from the Dispatch Theater Critic
        
Review from Columbus Dispatch.  And yes, Happy Easter!


CREATURES, SOME CHEMISTRY HELP KEEP 'CINDERELLA' GOING 

 Thursday, April 12, 2001 
 FEATURES - ACCENT & ARTS   07E 

 By Michael Grossberg 
 Dispatch Theater Critic 
                                                


If Cinderella, a minor musical, hadn't been written by Rodgers 
and Hammerstein, Broadway Series audiences
probably wouldn't be seeing it on a gussied-up national tour.

Judging from the garish cartoon staging, weird casting and silly 
acting, the producers respect the names of the creators
more than the modest material.

First shown on television in 1957 with Julie Andrews and remade 
with Lesley Ann Warren in 1965, Rodgers and
Hammerstein's Cinderella was re-conceived as a 1997 TV vehicle 
for singers Brandy and Whitney Houston.

In the latest production, which opened Tuesday in the Palace 
Theatre, director Gabriel Barre builds on the 1997 formula:
big stars (even when they are cast against type), bold colors 
(even when the greens and pinks don't match) and
street-smart slang (even when modern dialogue is jarringly out of 
place).

The producers and director have halfheartedly updated the retro 
characterizations and dialogue, with mixed results; the
show hasn't played Broadway and probably never will. This 
Cinderella wanders, barefoot, between the "country-
bumpkin'' atmosphere of a timeless fairy tale and the ironic 
urbanity of a near spoof.

Everett Quinton, an off-off-Broadway farceur known for his drag 
roles at the Ridiculous Theatre Company, plays the
Stepmother with gruffness and an impish pettiness.

Sassy Eartha Kitt, who could easily play the Stepmother, gives 
the Fairy Godmother a tough, modern attitude that seems
at odds with the character and the ostensible era.

"I'm your fairy godmother, darling,'' she tells Cinderella. "You 
have a problem with that?''

Her growly voice is so low that one almost expects her to leave 
the stage with an Arnold Schwarzenegger imitation: "I'll
be back.''

The tangential role doesn't give Kitt many chances to return. 
She's such a Broadway pro, though, that she's missed.

If not for the sweetness, good looks and romantic chemistry of 
Jamie-Lynn Sigler's Cinderella and Paolo Montalban's
Prince, Cinderella might never find its footing.

Montalban (who also played the Prince in the 1997 TV movie) and 
Sigler (Meadow on The Sopranos) sing Do I Love You
Because You're Beautiful? and The Sweetest Sounds so well that 
audiences won't care that the weak Rodgers and
Hammerstein score doesn't have any great numbers.

Caity, a 10- year-old friend, enjoyed the show more than I did. 
What really impressed Caity -- and a good portion of the
Tuesday audience -- were the "cool animals.''

Cinderella borrows one of the best devices from The Lion King to 
lesser effect: animal puppets (four mice, a cat and a
bird) manipulated for maximum cuteness by darkly dressed actors 
wielding sticks.

NaTasha Yvette Williams' itching Grace, Alexandra Kolb's cackling 
Joy and Ken Prymus' rueful King go for easy laughs
with similarly big shticks.

The bottom line: What was once a magical, heartwarming musical of 
great simplicity and beauty has been reduced to a
tongue-in-cheek vaudeville act.

mgrossbe@dispatch.com 

                                                            


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