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Could This Slipper Fit Mickey? 
 Wry for adults, sweet for kids, this 'Cinderella' seems 
inspired by Disney. 

By DARYL H. MILLER, Times Staff Writer

    In readying its new touring version of Rodgers and 
Hammerstein's "Cinderella," the Networks producing organization 
appears to have ripped several pages from the Disney playbook. 
     For starters, the show incorporates animal sidekicks like 
those in the classic animated movie, which are depicted by 
puppets that look to have been inspired by the Disney stage 
production of "The Lion King." 
     Other visuals seem to have been copied from the stage 
versions of both "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King." A 
still more obvious reference is the 1997 "Wonderful World of 
Disney" TV movie, from which this production borrows its pop 
inflections, story structure and even one of its stars (Paolo 
Montalban as the Prince). 
     To this mixture has been added a wry, knowing attitude 
toward the story's conventions, as when the herald, upon 
discovering Cinderella's slipper, comments: "Who dances in glass 
shoes? Ouch." The casting, too, is slyly deconstructionist, with 
the ageless and sexy Eartha Kitt playing the Fairy Godmother and 
Everett Quinton, a key player in the arty drag of Charles Ludlam 
and the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, portraying the 
Stepmother. 
     The resulting show, adapted by Tom Briggs, operates on two 
levels, with sweetness, cuteness and broad humor for the kids 
and inside jokes for the adults. The layers coexist fairly 
harmoniously, though they occasionally strain at the seams. 
Nevertheless, the production seemed to work magic on Tuesday's 
opening-night audience at the Orange County Performing Arts 
Center, where the production plays through Sunday. 
     It's easy to see how dirt-smudged Cinderella cleans up so 
divinely when she's got Kitt's Godmother as a role model. 
Stunning in a sequined gown that's slit all the way up the leg, 
Kitt uses that deep, champagne-soaked voice of hers to delicious 
effect as she psychoanalyzes the stepmother's treatment of 
Cinderella by saying: "You know what her problem is? She can't 
handle how fabulous you are." 
     The Cinderella in question is played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler, 
who goes from playing a mob princess as Tony's daughter on the 
HBO series "The Sopranos" to fairy-tale princess here. Sigler 
sings in a sweet, smooth-as-glass pop soprano and is so 
radiantly demure, winsome and unaffected that Montalban's teen-
heartthrob Prince couldn't resist her if he tried. 
     Comically supplying the story's nastiness factor, Quinton 
bites into the stepmother's lines in a voice almost as deep as 
Kitt's and looks fabulous, in his own way, with his muscular 
arms and shoulders exposed by his gowns. 
     Composer Andrew Lippa (of the Manhattan Theatre Club 
version of "The Wild Party," working here with his director on 
that show, Gabriel Barre) adds fairly unobtrusive pop accents to 
his arrangements of the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein songs. 
The obscure R&H tune "There's Music in You" that has been slip-
stitched onto the end of the show, however, seems both out of 
place and unnecessary. 
     The animal puppets--four white mice, a house cat and a 
dove, operated by black-clad puppeteers--are a hit with kids and 
adults alike, and in another page from Disney, take-home 
reproductions of the mice are sold at the concession stand. 


* * *
     * "Cinderella," Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 
Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Tonight-Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 
2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Ends Sunday. $22-$57. 
(714) 740-7878 or (213) 365-3500. 
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Copyright  2001 Los Angeles Times
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