Thanks to Lisa for this article!
A review from the Baltimore Sun

You can tell these guys are really having a ball
Review: With Eartha Kitt and Deborah Gibson in key roles,
'Cinderella' is a colorful ride in fun and fantasy.
By J. Wynn Rousuck
Sun Theater Critic
Originally published Dec 21 2000


Where: Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, 25 Hopkins Plaza
When: 8 p.m. tonight through Saturday, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, matinees
at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $21.50-$69

Call: 410-752-1200

The shoe fits. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote "Cinderella" for
television, but the theatrical touring version now at the
Mechanic Theatre suits this 1957 musical as perfectly as a dainty
foot gliding into a custom-made glass slipper.

The production - adapted for the stage by Tom Briggs and directed
by Gabriel Barre - isn't just a charming diversion for the kids
at holiday time, however. It's also got a dash of sass and
sophistication, as well as a new theme about the Fairy
Godmother's relationship to Cinderella, which contributes an
added level of poignancy.

The Fairy Godmother is played by Eartha Kitt, who, from her
beaded evening gown to her trademark gravelly singing style, is a
one-woman embodiment of sass and sophistication. "Been there,
done that," she quips about her lack of wand and other

Kitt opens the production with a brief prologue, during which a
large white dove rests on her shoulder. The dove watches over
Deborah Gibson's Cinderella throughout most of the show, clearly
representing the Godmother. In turn, as several of her remarks
suggest, the Godmother represents the spirit of Cinderella's dead

As such, Kitt's character is a strong maternal influence
encouraging Cinderella to mature and, as the Godmother puts it,
take responsibility for her own destiny. Only after Cinderella
shows a little gumption does the Fairy Godmother begin to work
her magic.

The show has its own brand of magic. The mice who are
Cinderella's friends are portrayed by rod puppets manipulated by
black-clad actors. When the mice are transformed into white
horses pulling the pumpkin-turned-carriage, the puppeteers appear
in white bodysuits, with tails and manes. Also used for the dove
and Cinderella's cat, the rod puppets are a relatively simple
effect whose widespread commercial acceptance owes a debt to
Julie Taymor's "The Lion King." Cute without being cloying, the
mice earn hearty laughter and applause when they perch on each
other's shoulders to close a door.

Like the 1997 telecast of the musical (from whose screenplay
Briggs adapted his script), the current production combines
colorblind casting with a hip sensibility that is especially
apparent in the portrayals of Cinderella's mean stepmother and
stepsisters, the inaptly named Grace and Joy. The stepmother is
played by cross-dressing Everett Quinton, who remains so
completely in character that most youngsters will probably never
realize his true gender.

NaTasha Yvette Williams' clumsy, rotund Grace and Alexandra
Kolb's skinny, awkward Joy are more like sparring partners than
sisters - "You wanna piece of me?" Grace bellows at Joy - until
Cinderella's success at the ball unites them in misery, comically
expressed in the song "Stepsisters' Lament."

The cast has one holdover from the 1997 TV show; handsome,
mellow-voiced Paolo Montalban is everything a girl could want in
a Prince Charming. As Cinderella, former teen idol Gibson is
appropriately sweet, but her pop singing voice has a thin,
sibilant quality.

The production's hipness is also reflected in its multicultural
design - from the Art Nouveau architecture of the stepmother's
house to the Arabian-inspired garb of the wedding guests to the
fanciful wigs worn by Cinderella's stepfamily. Even the jaunty,
percussive orchestrations and arrangements contribute to the
kicky, updated air.

Although "Cinderella" is less familiar than most of Rodgers and
Hammerstein's musicals, it has one of their most enchanting
scores, including the lilting "Do I Love You Because You're
Beautiful?" and the catchy "Impossible." Like the 1997 broadcast,
the production interpolates two numbers from other Rodgers and
Hammerstein works. "The Sweetest Sounds" enhances the opening
scene when the Prince literally bumps into Cinderella in the
street, but "There's Music in You," sung by the Fairy Godmother
at the end of the show, isn't a strong enough number to wrap up
the festivities (a shortcoming that might be mitigated by more
focused staging).

This is a mere quibble, however. In just about every other
respect, "Cinderella" is, to borrow another song title, "A Lovely