Updated classic sparkles at DHT
By Joseph T. Rozmiarek
Special to The Advertiser
By Joseph T. Rozmiarek
The Diamond Head Theatre's "Cinderella" is just right for kids — particularly little girls — this holiday season. The costumes and ballroom scene are grand, the magic transformations happen during a nontraditional ballet, and there's a fairytale wedding in the big finale.
Lest you fear a sugar overdose, know that director Greg Zane allowed the title character plenty of zip and has punched up the production with moments that balance out the plentiful saccharin.
"In 2006, do girls want to be saved by a man?" ponders Zane in the program notes. "What if she rescued him? What if they rescued each other?" This Cinderella is no wan ingenue — she's shaped more by "Pretty Woman."
As Cinderella, Ashley Ingersoll has plenty of spunk. The high school senior has a clear, articulate stage voice and looks lovely whether in rags or gowns. Carrying herself with professional style, she powers through the part with energy and character conviction.
As the Prince, the tall, waltzing Sean Jones nails the role as a character bored with courtly life. He just needs the right woman to put the stars back in his eyes.
Zane also modulates the sweetness in supporting roles. He turns the "Stepsisters' Lament" into broad comic one-upmanship by seating Melissa Bustamante and Kristin Jann-Fischer at a vanity table in the palace's ladies lounge. While commiserating about why the Prince would want "a girl like her!" the pair duel with scene-stealing and startling physical comedy.
Alison Maldonado gets a turn as a spicy Fairy Godmother who is less arthritic than she pretends during her duet, "Impossible." The number is so loaded with sly humor and subtle double-takes that we wish she had a bigger part.
Jessica Doyle displays operatic range as the Queen, and Daniel James Kunkel plays the dithery King with the right amount of understatement. Renee Noveck's Stepmother is statuesque in outfits of staggering bad taste and pathological in her efforts to control a drill-sergeant temperament.
If the tunes in Rogers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" sound like they were culled from other productions that went on to Broadway, it may be because they wrote this 1957 musical for television.
"In My Own Little Corner" and "Ten Minutes Ago" are two pleasant songs that gained extra stature from Julie Andrews' performance in the original production, and the Prince's "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?" has some retention value despite slipping into too much plaintive bleating.
Emmett Yoshioka's orchestra sounds much bigger than it is, while the set by Vincent Green and Dawn Oshima is elegant and economical. Karen Wolfe's ball costumes glow with golds and peaches in the palace scene, and her outfits for the Stepsisters play like an upended paint box.
Choreography by Timothy Albright is a mixture of marching and waltzing and uses an unusual ballet sequence to work the magic that sends Cinderella off to the ball. Here, four fairies in tutus and a string of chorus boys in white tuxedos and pumpkin heads create the coach, horses and ball gown, bringing unexpected interest to familiar material.
The show plays a crisp two hours with intermission and is a good opening to the winter festivities.