I got to be the cool aunt this weekend and take my two nieces, ages 10 and 7, to see Cinderella at the Children’s Theatre. To them, the show was utterly hilarious and wonderful. They laughed hysterically when Reed Sigmund and Dean Holt, the two male actors playing the ugly stepsisters, came out in their brightly colored petticoated dresses; they jumped to their feet and screamed as loud as they could anytime an actor said “Pig!” (a la Pee Wee’s Playhouse) and gasped audibly when Cinderella appeared in her magical misty white dress. For Ella and Cordelia, the broad physical comedy, silly jokes, and fairy tale plot provided a perfect evening’s entertainment, and I’m glad that I got to have that experience with them so that when they grow up they’ll have memories of their Auntie Sheila taking them to see Cinderella at the Children’s Theatre.
For me, the experience of watching Cinderella involved both joy and annoyance. I thought the songs were sappy and the jokes were corny, but there were definitely moments when I was seduced by the silly physical humor and the audience participation. For instance, Autumn Ness as the Stepmother talks directly to the audience, making bad one-liner jokes. The jokes were so bad, though, that after a while I found myself laughing at her perky looniness.
|cinderella, playing through january 2 at the children’s theatre. for tickets ($20-$44) and information, see childrenstheatre.org.|
There was one criticism that my nieces and I could agree on: the puppets are not that great. Eric J. Van Wyk’s mice are so small you can barely see them, and in Ella’s words, they’re kind of “fake-looking.” It’s as if Wyk couldn’t decide whether to have realistic looking mice or something much more imaginative, and the result is rather boring puppets that didn’t add much to the story or to the visual effect of the show.
The entire production is done in the Panto style, which is a British style of theatre with roots in Commedie del Arte. Traditionally Panto (or pantomime) holds no bars in its bawdiness and revelry, but throughout this CTC production I wanted to see more low-brow ridiculous humor.
I’m not a person who thinks that a man dressing in drag is inherently funny. Nor do I think that simply referencing something from popular culture makes a good joke. The structure for a very funny play was there, but director Peter C. Brosius and his cast failed to hit it out of the ballpark.
Still, don’t take my word for it. After all, as a 30-something cynic I’m not exactly the target audience for this family holiday show. My nieces had a fabulous time, and the packed house on opening night was filled with happy children rolling in the aisles. So chances are, if you are a kid—or a kid at heart—you will probably love this show.
|This event is featured in the Daily Planet’s complete guide to holiday theater. Throughout the holiday season, the guide will be updated with links to new Daily Planet reviews—so you know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.|