Post-Dispatch Theater Critic
Thanks to Lisa for this information!
 
Cinderella
By Judith Newmark
Post-Dispatch Theater Critic
03/14/2002

The Prince isn't the only charming thing about the production of 
Rodgers' and Hammerstein's musical adaptation of "Cinderella" 
that opened Wednesday at the Fox.

There's plenty of charm on the other side of the footlights, too.

The opening-night audience was, of course, full of children  
many of whom came dressed for a royal ball. Christmas dresses, 
flower-girl dresses and a few dance-recital costumes filled the 
Fox  one dashing little boy even sported a cutaway jacket. And 
who knew so many St. Louis girls have their own tiaras?

Afterwards, an extremely ruly crowd waited patiently by the 
stage door, where Eartha Kitt (the Fairy Godmother), Paolo 
Montalban (reprising his TV role as the Prince, opposite Brandy, 
for the stage) and members of the company agreeably autographed 
programs.

This is not a common sight at the Fox, but the enthusiasm the 
exceptionally young theater-goers brought to "Cinderella" was 
matched by the vivacious production.

Montalban and Jessica Rush (Cinderella) make an appealing 
couple. Their love-at-first-sight encounter at the palace ball 
is executed gracefully, with a couple of sweet songs ("The 
Cinderella Waltz" and "Ten Minutes Ago") to set a persuasive 
mood.

They don't have to carry the whole story, slim as it is, by 
themselves. Everett Quinton, NaTasha Yvette Williams and Sandra 
Bargman hit cartoonish heights as Cinderella's awful family, 
with Williams and Bargman standing out in a duet of 
resentment, "Stepsisters' Lament," that features some of Oscar 
Hammerstein's most unexpected rhymes ("flimsy kind of 
charm"/ "break her little arm"). Ken Prymus and Leslie Becker 
are big, cuddly standouts as the king and queen.

And of course, there's Kitt, playing the Fairy Godmother as 
Morgan le Fey in sequins. It works fine  what could Kitt be 
than would be more intriguing than Kitt, herself? Besides, when 
she growls out "fol-de-rol" she can persuade you that her words 
might be magic; they sure aren't ordinary English any more.

Director Gabriel Barre's "rainbow cast" takes the story out of 
any particular place, with a big help from the overall design. 
Costumer Pamela Scofield seems to be working in Franco-Slovak-
Istan; scenic designer James Youmans makes choices just as 
eclectic. He and lighting designer Tim Hunter deliver an 
imaginative version of the shoe-quest, placing it behind a 
scrim. It turns the prince's potential brides into a shadowy 
swarm, suggesting a much bigger cast than the show actually has.

"Cinderella" has a lot of the same appeal as the stage 
production of "Beauty and the Beast." But it isn't a Disney show 
(the producing company is called NETworks). Nevertheless, it 
leans on Disney here and there; for example, the prince's 
castle, off in the distance, resembles the one in the 
movie "Sleeping Beauty," and the show begins with a village 
scene reminiscent of the opening of "Beauty and the Beast."

Also, the puppet animals that befriend the heroine are 
manipulated by visible puppeteers, like the ones in 
Disney's "The Lion King." But most of Cinderella's pals are 
mice. Even though they are lots bigger (and cuter) than actual 
mice, they are still much too small to be effective on the Fox 
stage; sometimes you can't even see them. This creates an 
especially odd effect when Cinderella opens her heart ("In My 
Own Little Corner") to a circle of men in odd dark hats. When 
the mice change to white horses, they are the men themselves, 
moving with an equine elegance that we understand instantly. The 
men might have made just as good mice; they certainly would have 
made bigger ones.

The show runs two hours, including intermission, a comfortable 
length for most school-aged children.

"Cinderella"
Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Boulevard
When: 1 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7:30 p.m.
Saturday; 1 and 6 p.m. Sunday
How much: $20-$45
Tickets: Fox box office; MetroTix outlets; 314-534-1111; www. 
metrotix.com