As in past years, Raleigh Little Theatre’s 27th annual presentation of the Prince Street Players, Ltd.’s musical version of Cinderella, an English pantomime with music by Jim Eiler and Jeanne Bargy and a book and lyrics by Eiler, based on French author Charles Perrault’s familiar fairy tale, also features additional music and lyrics by Nancy Whelan, Suann A. Strickland, RLT director Haskell Fitz-Simons, and Julie A. Florin. But unlike previous production that were staged downtown in the 600-seat A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Cinderella 27 is running in RLT‘s 300-seat Cantey V. Sutton Theatre in west Raleigh.
The result is a more intimate take on this timeless love story that stars Hailey Best as Cinderella and Pelham Jacobs as Prince Charming. They make a handsome pair, and they sing superbly. But once director Haskell Fitz-Simons sends in the clowns, the beautiful but bedraggled scullery maid Cinderella and her handsome Prince get royally upstaged.
This year, N.C. State University junior Jillian Varner is a hoot as Cinderella’s frolicsome Fairy Godmother, Rose Martin Higgins is a hilarious Queen of Mean as Cinderella’s dastardly Stepmama, Jason Cooper and Robert Steinberg provoke guffaws as Fairy Godmother’s eager but often inept Helpers, and Warren Keyes adds a frisky comic cameo as the kingdom’s resident dirty old man, nearsighted King Darling III. But — as in past years — it is M. Dennis Poole and Tim Cherry — in hideous drag, with horrible yarn wigs — who steal the show with their outrageous antics as Cinderella’s butt-ugly stepsisters Gertrude and Henrietta.
The venue may be a fraction of the size, but director Haskell Fitz-Simons, choreographer Missy Dapper, and music director Julie Florin make sure that the 2010 edition of Cinderella always has a smile on its face and a bounce in its step. With its storybook set by scenic designers Bill Rodgers and Rick Young and colorful fairy-tale togs by costume designer Vicki Olson, Cinderella is a visual feast. Musical director Julie Florin and choreographer Missy Dapper and an effervescent cast, under the direction of Haskell Fitz-Simons, put a little extra spring in their step for this year’s installment of Cinderella. And a good time was had by children of all ages.
SECOND OPINION: Dec. 16th Raleigh, NC Classical Voice of North Carolina review by Spencer Powell: http://cvnc.org/reviews/2010/122010/RLT.html; and Dec. 15th Triangle Arts & Entertainment review by Susie Potter: http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/12/raleigh-little-theatres-cinderella-is-the-perfect-childrens-show/. (To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Dec. 10th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/12/is-bringing-cinderella-home/.)
Raleigh Little Theatre presents CINDERELLA at 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 18 and 19 in RLT‘s Cantey V. Sutton Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
BOX OFFICE: 919/821-3111 or http://www.etix.com/.
NOTE: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive-listening devices are available for all shows.
Cinderella: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella (Wikipedia) and http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0510a.html (from D. L. Ashliman’s folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.