The Detroit News
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Theater Review
Except for the dancing, 'Cinderella' was a magical experience
By Eric Henrickson / The Detroit News

Rodgers and Hammestein's 'Cinderella' 
DETROIT -- It's possible to take a 45-year-old musical written 
for television and turn it into something wonderful for the 
   After three TV presentations and a previous trip across the 
boards, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella is touring again 
(it's at the Fox Theatre through Sunday), and there is some 
magic going on up on that stage. 
   Eartha Kitt is a surprising choice as the Fairy Godmother. 
She's not bright and perky, as most people envision the 
character. But using some subtext added from the original fairy 
tale, she makes it work. There's no bibbity-bobbity-boo here, 
but her "Fol-De-Rol" has some bite, tempered with warmth. 
   As Cinderella, Jessica Rush does a nice job of transforming 
from mousy servant girl for her stepfamily to the beautiful 
woman her fairy godmother knows she is -- inside and out. Rush 
has a lovely voice, and she uses it to good effect in "In My Own 
Little Corner" and "Impossible/It's Possible." 
   Her handsome Prince is Paolo Montalban, who played the part 
in Disney's live-action TV version a few years back. He's better 
here, with more of a presence and a great romantic tenor 
for "The Sweetest Sounds" and "Do I Love You Because You're 
   Like that Disney version, this production builds on the 
original. Stage adapter Tom Briggs fleshed out the original 
score with "The Sweetest Sounds," from Richard Rodgers' No 
Strings, and "There's Music in You," another showpiece number 
for Kitt originally introduced in the 1953 movie Main Street to 
Broadway. They're nice additions. Briggs also made Cinderella 
less passive and added some puppet mice and a cat, a kid-
friendly feature that serves as a cute back-up chorus in a 
couple of Cinderella's numbers. 
   It's not giving away to much too say that the stepmother is 
played by a man, Everett Quinton, since the program makes no 
attempt to hide it, and you can tell the second he opens his 
mouth when he walks on stage. He's a hoot, as are Natasha Yvette 
Williams and Sandra Bargman as the stepsisters, Grace and Joy, 
but the fun of casting a man in that role is in making the 
audience wonder, at least for a few minutes. 
   Where the show loses some lustre, though, is its 
choreography. If you wondered if Kitt is still in shape at 75, 
there's no doubt after the calisthenics routine Ken Roberson 
puts her through for "Impossible/It's Possible." Instead of any 
sensible dance or movement, Kitt is stuck with a series of toe-
touches, deep-knee bends and weird shakes. She still has the 
legs, and a strong voice, and she deserves better. 
   But you almost forget all about it the moment rag-covered 
Rush twirls behind her golden coach and spins out from the other 
side in full ball regalia in a time far too short to pull it off 
even with an army of dressers waiting back there. 
   Stage magic, indeed. 

You can reach Eric Henrickson at (313) 222-2799 or