Article from TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thanks to Dan for this information! Theater - Review - Thursday, May 17, 2001 Magical 'Cinderella' lacks character depth By Alice T. Carter TRIBUNE-REVIEW THEATER CRITIC If the opening-night audience is any indication, "Cinderella" should close out the 2000-01 Mellon Pittsburgh Broadway Series with full houses of happy people. And why not? The Rogers and Hammerstein musical is sprinkled with pretty, waltzable tunes including double helpings of "The Sweetest Sounds," "A Lovely Night" and "Ten Minutes Ago," as well as once- overs of "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful," and "In My Own Little Corner." Scenic designer James Youmans, costume designer Pamela Scofield, hair and wig designer Bernie Ardia and special-effects designer Gregory Meeh have created an eyeball-popping, Crayola-bright, cartoon world filled with magic transformations, wildly over-the- top hairdos and fantastic costumes bright enough to blind those in the first five rows. There's even a roster of well-known performers on board who promise someone of interest for a wide variety of tastes. For the older traditionalists, there's Eartha Kitt doing her panther prance as the Fairy Godmother. HBO fans are likely to turn out to see Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who plays Cinderella onstage while taking a break after completing her third season as Tony Soprano's daughter Meadow on "The Sopranos." Those of us with a fondness for high-camp comedy have spent the season anticipating the arrival of Everett Quinton as the Stepmother. And admirers of the male physique are in for a treat when Paolo Montalban, who plays the Prince, removes his royal tunic and reveals his muscles. The story, of course, offers no surprises - deserving, downtrodden waif overcomes her evil step-siblings and stepmonster to win the love of a royal prince and a home in a fairy-tale castle. Tom Briggs' stage adaptation of Robert L. Freedman's original teleplay gives it an overlay of contemporary, ethnic overtones. Director Gabriel Barre and choreographer Ken Roberson pump energy, vitality and humor into the familiar tale with sprightly ensemble dance sequences nicely done by a high-kicking chorus and plenty of physical comedy. Integrity Designworks contributes a charming infestation of rod- puppet rodents, plus one fat cat, that are given personality by their onstage handlers. But what's disappointing about this "Cinderella" is that its central characters are so colorless. The Prince has always been a noble but passive space filler. He's indispensable to the story but has little to do but look handsome and let us know he's going to treat Cinderella with kindness. Montalban fulfills those requirements and has a pleasant enough voice, but he's hardly likely to spark much interest or connection for the young boys who get taken to the musical alongside their sisters. Sigler's serviceable voice gets her through "In My Own Little Corner" solo and her "Impossible" duet with Kitt nicely. But her Cinderella is the traditional little-girl-lost victim child without a backbone. You can't help but want to cheer when her cynical, worldly wise stepmother growls, "Your wish has been granted, now do something with it." The surrounding characters carry the show. Given the latitude to develop interesting, broadly comic characters, the production sometimes goes over the top, but it adds punch and laughter to the proceedings. Quinton plays the Stepmother as a despot desperate to secure her girls' futures. He's convincing enough that some in the audience left debating whether the part was played by a man or a woman. NaTasha Yvette Williams and Alexandra Kolb occasionally swerve over the line into cartoon silliness as the inaccurately named stepsisters Grace and Joy. Kitt's Fairy Godmother has a been-there-done-that detachment, but her signature deep-throated purr, though rounded down by age, still offers its anticipated growl. Brooks Ashmanskas enlivens the role of Lionel, the outspoken, jokey palace servant. Ken Prymus and Leslie Becker imbue King Maximillian and Queen Constantina with domestic warmth.