Thanks to Lisa for this article! A review from the Toronto Star Jan. 31, 2001. 12:42 AM There's no glass slipper here, just plastic Richard Ouzounian THEATRE CRITIC Cinderella 416-870-8000 By Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Directed by Gabriel Barre. Choreography by Ken Roberson. Until February 4 at the Pantages Theatre, 244 Victoria Street. Here's good news for all you wannabe Cinderellas out there: the version which opened at the Pantages Theatre last night will get you home long before midnight. Whether it will keep you awake till then is another matter. The production directed by Gabriel Barre has the unique distinction of being brassy, broad and boring - all at the same time. Rodgers and Hammerstein first wrote Cinderella for television in 1957 during their long slump that followed The King and I. Despite the fact that it's not one of their greatest scores, it was extremely popular at the time, due in part to the performance of Julie Andrews, while she was still dazzling Broadway in My Fair Lady. It was redone a few years later with Lesley Ann Warren, and then turned into a stage version which has been a staple of theatres ever since. Finally in 1997 it was heavily rewritten, and transformed into a Wonderful World of Disney special starring Brandy. It's a further rewrite of that video version - rather than the beloved original - which is now being presented on stage. Instead of fairytale charm and timeless beauty, we get a total compendium of pop cliches. ``Same old, same old . . . been there, done that. . . . you want a piece of me. . . .duh'' are all there to make you feel you're watching a strangely costumed version of Clueless. The Rodgers tunes are still there (with a couple of additions from his catalogue), but they have been orchestrated in a disfiguring manner, adding beat where none was intended, and manipulating rhythm to the point where Hammerstein's lyrics now seem to scan oddly. (Something they were never guilty of.) It's not necessary to recap the story (wicked stepmother, ugly stepsisters, fairy godmother, pumpkin coach, yadda yadda) which remains more or less intact. The substance isn't the problem, it's the style that will have you figdeting in your seat. Take Cinderella's stepfamily. Her Stepmom is supposed to be awful, true, but is she supposed to be played in drag as a dead ringer for Mel Brooks? (Everett Quinton is the guilty party.) And must both stepsisters be caricatured beyond belief, causing eye and ear fatigue at the same time? (NaTasha Yvette Williams and Alexandra Kolb fight to a photo finish for the Overactor of the Night Award.) Then there's the Fairy Godmother. Eartha Kitt plays her much the same way she played the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz several years ago: slinky sex and sardonic menace. Come to think of it, that's probably how Ms. Kitt would play Mother Theresa. Or how about the chorus of mice that befriend Cinderella? They consist of stick puppets manipulated by a chorus of men in blue pyjamas. It looks like some sanitation workers decided to do their version of The Lion King. On the positive side, I enjoyed the performance of Paolo Montalban as the Prince, although his sincerity seemed to have wandered in from another far more appropriate production. This leaves us with Deborah Gibson's Cinderella. She starts out as the humble slattern wearing eyelashes that reach halfway to Hamilton and makeup that Joan Collins might have found a bit much. Oh wait. She does have a smudge on one cheek. And when she is transformed into the beautiful creature at the ball, she looks for all the world like Fran Drescher heading to her Prom. Her singing style falls uncomfortably between the arena of pop she used to inhabit, and the world of musical theatre she now chooses, scoring a hit in neither field. To top it all off, she seems far too old and worldly for Cinderella, leaving us with the feeling that what we've been watching is really Debbie Does Disney. There's no glass slipper here, friends, just pure plastic.