Little Broadway Productions' musical "Cinderella" at the Showboat Dinner Theatre in Woodland Hills offers amusing variations on the familiar fairy tale, but with a paucity of pizazz, the show never lives up to its humorous potential.
Several clever devices are undersold.
Narrator Corky Dominguez, in black tuxedo and red tennis shoes, opens the show with "We're All Special," a song-and-dance number. The cast assembles on stage and freezes in position. Corky snaps his fingers to unfreeze each character briefly and let him or her speak, one by one.
Among them is the White Rabbit from "Alice in Wonderland," who apparently has a penchant for stumbling into the wrong story.
In Phylis Ward Fox's version, Harold the Rabbit reluctantly teams up with Cinderella's fairy godmother, to earn his way home.
He shudders at the possibility of ending up in the "Wizard of Oz" again. "Do you know what they do to rabbits in Kansas?" When Gladys, the fairy godmother, reminds him that time moves fast in Never-Never Land, he scratches his head in confusion. "I thought that was Peter Pan territory."
Harold is played with energy and humor by Stephen Stewart and, though there are no stand-out voices here, he can deliver a song. Even an uninspired one.
Susan McDermott also has a comic presence. As the younger stepsister, waffling between compassion for Cinderella and going along with her mother and sister's scorn, she turns her sympathetic remarks into insults with perfect timing.
The rest of the cast, though respectable, just isn't having that much fun.
Under Marilyn Weitz's direction, Cynthia Snyder, who gives the impression that she could enjoyably throw herself into her role as stepmother, seems restrained. One wishes she would break loose during "The Plotting Song"--the best number in the show. But the number isn't given the emphasis it deserves.
For the most part, David Coleman's music and lyrics are lifeless, but one song, "Smile," comes to life a bit too vividly. Painting an inadvertently gruesome picture Cinderella sings, "Pull your lips back from your face and let your teeth come shining through."
Cinderella (Judi Anne May) and Prince Edward (Ken Weiner) are traditionally ingenuous. There's no spark visible, but they waltz together quite nicely. Dominguez choreographed.
The price of admission includes lunch, which starts at noon. It takes an hour for everyone to be fed--dining is communal and waiters serve the children, while adults help themselves from the buffet.
The menu doesn't include punch. It doesn't need it. The show does.
Performances continue through May 10 at 19817 Ventura Blvd. on Saturdays and Sundays at noon (818) 884-7461).