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Cinderella Review from the The Miami Herald

Published Thursday, December 7, 2000, in the Miami Herald 

Eartha Kitt sardonic in `Cinderella'


Once upon a time Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote a television version of Cinderella. They never got around to bringing it to 
Broadway, but 43 years later, a different creative team headed by director 
Gabriel Barre has brought its version of the timeless fairy-tale to the stage.

What the production now on display at Miami Beach's Jackie Gleason Theater proves is that not every dream of theatrical success has a fairy-tale ending.

Though it obviously longs to be in the new tradition of such blockbusters as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, Cinderella is a discount version of those lavish shows despite a few nice effects and some cute puppets. Rodgers and Hammerstein's lush score, slightly padded with The Sweetest Sounds and another song by the team, is still the best thing about it. Not that it doesn't have other pleasures, specifically Eartha Kitt, Everett Quinton and Paolo Montalban.

The ageless Kitt makes Cinderella's Fairy Godmother a far more alluring and slightly sardonic presence than such magical women usually are. Quinton, sporting a tower of flaming red curls and a voice reminiscent of Bette Davis, transcends drag's campiness to make the Wicked Stepmother devastatingly cruel at key moments. Montalban is everything a handsome prince should be, and his gift for imbuing songs with romantic longing make The Sweetest Sounds and Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful? highlights of the show.

As Cinderella's stepsisters Joy and Grace, Alexandra Kolb and NaTasha Yvette Williams are the comic antitheses of the qualities their names 
suggest. Thanks in part to some of the better lines in Tom Briggs' dullish script, Victor Trent Cook brings a cheeky edge to Lionel, the Prince's servant.

That brings us, of course, to Deborah Gibson as Cinderella. The former chart topper is comfortable on a stage, spunky and sure of what the heroine wants. What detracts from her performance is the wisp of a lisp that trickles through her light pop delivery, a style that suffers by comparison to Montalban's Broadway romanticism and Kitt's take-no-prisoners belting.

Andrew Lippa's sparkling arrangements, well played by a non-union orchestra as striking local musicians picketed outside the Gleason, serve Rodgers and Hammerstein well. Less successful are choreographer Ken Roberson's ho-hum dances and James Youmans' cartoonish, minimalist scenic design.

Christine Dolen is The Herald's theater critic.