Article from LA Times

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News from Costa Mesa, Newport Beach in the Times Community 

TOM TITUS -- Theater Review 
 'Cinderella' glitters at the Center 

     Theatergoers who have seen "Into the Woods" (the current 
attraction at Costa Mesa Civic Playhouse) a few times and are 
thirsting for a more traditional Cinderella story can avail 
themselves of the glittering original at the Orange County 
Performing Arts Center through Sunday. 
     Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella," a hipper version of 
the classic fairy tale etched into children's theater history 
decades ago by a fellow named Disney, is a show calculated to 
enchant the youngsters while entertaining their parents. 
Director Gabriel Barre has mounted a joyous production, bubbling 
over with eye-catching special effects and animated puppetry 
that sustain the magical theme. 
     Eartha Kitt, still kittenishly sensual in her 70s, 
headlines the show as the fairy godmother (even though her part 
is a tenth the size of the title role). Kitt offers that 
familiar throaty voice that crooned "Santa Baby" a half-century 
ago and presents an imposing, no-nonsense benefactor who weaves 
her magic without benefit of a wand. Her agility, considering 
her years, is remarkable. 
     The show's Cinderella, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, may be familiar 
to many TV viewers as a Soprano. Here, she's a lowercase soprano 
who charms the audience from the outset after a chance meeting 
with the prince in the public square. This gives rise to "The 
Sweetest Sounds," a song Richard Rodgers also employed in his 
1962 musical "No Strings," but which fits more comfortably 
in "Cinderella." 
     Sigler's lithe presence and splendid vocal talent elevate 
the fairy tale to a lustrous level, fleshing out the scullery 
maid cringing before her overbearing stepmother and stepsisters. 
Her ballroom scene with the prince -- earnestly enacted by Paolo 
Montalban -- bears a welcome touch of realism that shines 
through all the magic. 
     The stepmother and stepsisters generally are quite 
uglified, but this production takes tradition one better by 
casting a male actor in drag (Everett Quinton) as the stepmom. 
Quinton milks all the juicy physical comedy available from his 
gravel-voiced character, and his facial contortions are 
     The sisters -- here given the ironic names of Joy and 
Grace -- are equally outlandish. Alexandra Kolb's woebegone Joy 
possesses a horse laugh akin to Jay Leno's buddy Angela Ramos. 
The graceless Grace of NaTasha Yvette Williams, nervously 
scratching herself through the ball, is somewhat overdone but a 
hoot nevertheless. 
     Ken Prymus and Leslie Becker deliver solidly likable 
performances as the king and queen, anxious to get their son 
married so they can start spoiling their grandchildren. Brooks 
Ashmanskas deftly swipes his scenes as the royal steward, the 
fellow who really gets things done. 
     Animation -- four mice, a cat and a bird -- is achieved by 
onstage puppeteers who give their "characters" such sprightly 
personalities that they themselves fade, as intended, into the 
background. It's an interesting, and heretofore unseen, gimmick 
that enhances the fairy-tale aspect of the show. 
     Modernization is evident throughout. Phrases such as "same 
old, same old" are used liberally and racial mixing (the royal 
family, the stepsisters) is accomplished without many eyebrows 
being raised. Kitt presents a very with-it fairy godmother, 
cutting to the chase with a minimum of ceremony. 
     Musical director Andrew Lippa and choreographer Ken 
Roberson keep the production light and magical, and the finale 
is literally gowned in glitter. This is a "Cinderella" for the 
entire family, especially the little princesses in their formal 
gowns and tiaras spotted at the Center on opening night. 
     * TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Daily Pilot. His 
reviews appear Thursdays and Saturdays. 
     WHAT: "Cinderella" 
     WHERE: Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town 
Center Drive, Costa Mesa. 
     WHEN: 8 p.m. today through Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday 
and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday 
     COST: $22-$57 
     TICKETS: (714) 556-2746