By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The result is a loose, un-bawdy, very kid-giggly interpretation of the old story, re-imagined here in panto style by playwright Jackie Mellor, who works in some goofy references to Ross Dress for Less and Google. As required, a panto incorporates audience sing-alongs, some glow-in-the-dark puppetry (used for the ball gown-sewing scene) and the appearance of a remarkably un-scary ghost. This Cinderella also introduces a court jester named Silly Billie (Allison McCorkle) who explains all to the crowd beforehand.
Might not be wise to teach kids to yak back to actors at other live theater productions, but for a panto it's part of the fun. The audience is urged to boo every entrance of Cinderella's snooty stepmonster, Baroness Likely (Michele Rene), and to warn the jester whenever that sheet-draped ghost sneaks onstage behind her.
Among the cast, the stepsisses in drag steal every scene, as you might expect, particularly Witkowicz, wobbling under a wig that resembles a 2-foot-high cone of tomato aspic (great costumes by Robin Armstrong and hair and makeup by Steven-Shayle Rhodes). Cinderella, as played by the diminutive Laura Stephenson, is a pretty, wispy thing but often barely visible behind the boys' voluminous hoop skirts. She makes a grand transformation, however, in the black-lit ball-gown scene that earns well-deserved "oohs" and "aahs" from the kiddos.
The only clunker in the cast is Steve Freedman as Prince Charming's father, King Leopold. Where quick comic timing is called for, Freedman falters on the British phrasings. He's the only bland blip in an otherwise delightful bit of family entertainment.