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STAGE REVIEW

Let's Be Adult About This

Children's theater production of 'Cinderella' is too juvenile to reach kids.

March 05, 1998|T.H. McCULLOH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

ORANGE — Broadway on Tour bills itself as "Children Bringing Theatre to Children." That's a wonderful idea, helping in a great way to build theater audiences for tomorrow.

But one of the problems, evident in the group's current production of "Cinderella," is a tendency to play down to the young audience. They deserve more credit than they usually get.

Another Orange County children's theater group, the Children's Repertory of Fullerton, recently staged a rich production of the musical "Brigadoon," and the young audience appeared entranced. Broadway On Tour has done more successful productions, such as "The Wizard of Oz" a few years back.

In the "Cinderella" audience, the adults seemed more taken than the kids, particularly three tiny ones who were called up to play princesses in the ball scene. They looked bored to death.

The script and songs--uncredited in the program--are simplistic to a fault, and Rhesa Casaday's direction doesn't take her young troupers much beyond that; it seems her only goal is achieving "cute."

Most of the cast here could do more than cute. Jessica Adams' Fairy Godmother, for instance, is a little bundle of joy, with an altogether proper Irish accent. She started as a pixie, graduated to leprechaun, and finally made it to Fairy Godmother--and is scared she might be demoted. Adams sings and dances like a pro, particularly in a jazzy blues number, "I'm a Fairy Godmother," and has a smile that fills the room.

Playing Cinderella's poodle, Lilly, is another charmer, Amanda Cech, and she almost steals the show, especially cavorting with Fairy Godmother in a brief vaudeville turn. Brett McClellan is a stalwart and handsome Prince, as Jessica Rainboldt is a lovely and graceful Cinderella, but each could look much better with more solid and pertinent direction.

Jessica Herron and Justine Wallace are fine as the nasty stepsisters, but they might have been shown that a bit more subtlety could improve their comedy, and stepmother Lisa Stier, suffering from a bad cold, made the most of a husky voice and good stage presence.

As a page who sets scenes and fills in details, Whitney Buttes made less of an impression than she might have produced with stronger direction.

BE THERE

"Cinderella," Broadway on Tour, 2190 N. Canal St., Orange. Saturdays-Sundays, 2 p.m. Ends April 5. $6. (714) 282-8148. Running time: 45 minutes.

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