×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cinderella

With this new national touring production of "Cinderella," director Gabriel Barre and writer Tom Briggs prove it's possible to turn a charming television musical into a magical stage production.

With:
The Fairy Godmother - Eartha Kitt
Cinderella - Deborah Gibson
Prince Christopher - Paolo Montalban
The Stepmother - Everett Quinton
Grace - NaTasha Yvette Williams
Joy - Alexandra Kolb
Lionel, his royal steward - Victor Trentcook
Queen Constantina - Leslie Becker
King Maximillian - Ken Prymus
4 White Mice - Kip Driver, Kevin Duda, Jason Ma, Jason Robinson
Charles, a cat - Patrick Wetzel
A Dove - Andre Ward

With this new national touring production of “Cinderella,” director Gabriel Barre and writer Tom Briggs prove it’s possible to turn a charming television musical into a magical stage production.

There have been various stage productions of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical that originated as a 1957 TV special starring Julie Andrews, but this is the first full-scale Broadway-style production with a book clearly designed for the stage.

Briggs has taken elements from the original story by Oscar Hammerstein II, the teleplay by Robert. Freedman and the 1997 TV remake with Brandy and Whitney Houston to create a wholly new musical that offers enough cute mice puppets, special effects and witty humor to dazzle the youngest audiences and also satisfy the most jaded adults.

Like the 1997 Disney TV film, this production brings Cinderella and Prince Christopher together in the opening scene. They each wander around the town square singing “The Sweetest Sounds” (interpolated from Richard Rodgers’ “No Strings”) and dreaming about meeting the special someone they know is waiting for them.

They don’t meet again until the Prince’s ball in the second act, after Cinderella has been transformed into a beautiful princess by her Fairy Godmother, played in a cynically playful style by the vibrant Eartha Kitt.

Kitt is one of the show’s wise casting moves. With her distinctive singing and speaking voice, some might expect her to play the wicked Stepmother, but she’s perfectly right for the atypical Fairy Godmother she’s playing. Rejecting the notion of the magic wand and tutu costume, she tells a surprised Cinderella, “Been there. Done that.”

Barre’s other surprise casting is Everett Quinton, the Ridiculous Theater Co. veteran, who is a marvel as the Stepmother. He projects a masculine femininity that adds to the character’s haughty tone and nasty attitude toward anything that might get in the way of getting her daughters married.

In the title role, pop singer and Broadway performer Deborah Gibson has some nice moments and a winsome spirit, but at the show’s first public performance, vocal limitations impaired the amount of grace and elegance she was able to inject into the role.

Musical supervisor and arranger Andrew Lippa has, however, created some contemporary tempos for Gibson’s songs, particularly the once-lilting “A Lovely Night,” that are better suited to her singing style than the more traditional ballads “Ten Minutes Ago” and “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?”

Whatever the style of the music, it seems just right for Paolo Montalban, who also played the Prince in the recent telefilm. His voice is strong and engaging and he makes you feel his despair as his parents push him to find a bride.

Set designer James Youmans creates a world that is just a bit off-kilter, a cartoonish fairy tale with modern flourishes. The cockeyed view extends to Pamela Scofield’s costumes.

Her sometimes garish mix of yellows, pinks, orange and greens in the end seems just right, particularly for the stepmother and her daughters and the comical king and queen played by Ken Prymus and Leslie Becker. Alexandra Kolb and NaTasha Yvette Williams have broad fun with their roles and the show’s funniest song, “Stepsisters Lament.”

At the moment, the transformation of a plain yellow pumpkin into a sculptured golden carriage, achieved through swirling lights, smoke and lighting bolts, takes a bit longer than necessary. After more performances and tightening, it should make for an impressive display that matches the spirit of the rest of the show.

Popular on Variety

Cinderella

Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Tampa, Fla.; 2,500 seats; $64.50 top

Production: A NETworks presentation of a musical in two acts with music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, adapted for the stage by Tom Briggs from the teleplay by Robert L. Freedman. Directed by Gabriel Barre. Choreographed by Ken Roberson. Musical supervision and arrangements, Andrew Lippa.

Creative: Sets, James Youmans; costumes, Pamela Scofield; lighting, Tim Hunter; sound, Duncan Edwards; special effects, Gregory Meeh; puppets, Integrity Designworks; hair and wigs, Bernie Ardia; orchestrations, David Siegel; original orchestrations, Robert Russell Bennett; music director/conductor, John Mezzio; production supervisor, Seth Wenig; production stage manager, Dan Bello. Opened, reviewed Nov. 28, 2000. Running time: 2 HOURS.

Cast: The Fairy Godmother - Eartha Kitt
Cinderella - Deborah Gibson
Prince Christopher - Paolo Montalban
The Stepmother - Everett Quinton
Grace - NaTasha Yvette Williams
Joy - Alexandra Kolb
Lionel, his royal steward - Victor Trentcook
Queen Constantina - Leslie Becker
King Maximillian - Ken Prymus
4 White Mice - Kip Driver, Kevin Duda, Jason Ma, Jason Robinson
Charles, a cat - Patrick Wetzel
A Dove - Andre Ward
With: Joanne Borts, Natalie Cortez, Christy Morton, Monica Patton, Christeena Michelle Riggs, Jessica Rush.

More Legit

  • Jane Alexander James Cromwell

    Jane Alexander, James Cromwell to Star in Broadway's 'Grand Horizons'

    Jane Alexander and James Cromwell will head up the Broadway cast of Bess Wohl’s “Grand Horizons.” The two Oscar nominees will star as Bill and Nancy, a couple whose five-decade-long relationship unravels when they move to a retirement community. After Nancy decides she wants a divorce, her family life is sent into disarray. The show [...]

  • Chasing Rainbows review

    New Jersey Theater Review: Judy Garland Bio 'Chasing Rainbows'

    Judy Garland’s voice was unparalleled and rich, an emotive contralto that lasted long into her later years with a loud and winning showiness to go with its melodramatic nuances. But that voice concealed a troubled backstory, as the woman born Frances Ethel Gumm toted the baggage of a closeted gay father, an ugly duckling’s insecurity [...]

  • Broadway Review: David Byrne's 'American Utopia'

    Broadway Review: David Byrne's 'American Utopia'

    One constant of David Byrne’s long and prolific career is his ability to grow a seemingly simple idea into something brilliant, whether it’s the melody of “Road to Nowhere” or the concept of the “Stop Making Sense” tour some 36 years ago, where the premise of bringing out nine musicians, one at a time per [...]

  • The Sound Inside review

    Broadway Review: 'The Sound Inside' Starring Mary-Louise Parker

    Mary-Louise Parker will take your breath away with her deeply felt and sensitively drawn portrait of a tenured Yale professor who treasures great literature, but has made no room in her life for someone to share that love with. The other thesp in this two-hander is Will Hochman, endearing in the supportive role of a [...]

  • Little Shop of Horrors review

    Off Broadway Review: 'Little Shop of Horrors'

    With its strains of kitschy doo-wop and its sci-fi B-movie inspirations, the quaint 1982 musical “Little Shop of Horrors” hardly seems a thing of modern-day revivalism, even despite its touches of S&M. Yet this year alone, not only is there an Off Broadway production of the blackly comic “Little Shop” featuring Jonathan Groff of Netflix’s [...]

  • The Lightning Thief review musical

    Broadway Review: 'The Lightning Thief,' The Musical

    “It’s a lot to take in right now,” says Percy Jackson, the teen hero of “The Lightning Thief,” the kid-centric fantasy musical (based on the popular Y.A. novel) that’s now on Broadway after touring the country and playing an Off Broadway run. You could say that’s a bit of an understatement from contemporary teen Percy [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content