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THEATER REVIEW

More enchantment

Civic Light Opera's 'Cinderella' has a lovely princess onstage -- and plays well to all the little ones in tow.

December 04, 2007|Lynne Heffley | Times Staff Writer

Rodgers and Hammerstein's airy confection "Cinderella" has a handsome prince and a happily-ever-after, but little girls know what it's really all about: the big dress.

At the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, where the fairy tale tuner opened this weekend, velvet and lace, satin and taffeta were de rigueur -- and that was just the audience: Accompanied by more prosaically dressed adults, a host of pint-sized princesses in dress-up finery awaited the show's transformative rags-to-ball gown magic.

While more agreeable than memorable, this holiday offering, presented by Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities and originally created as a 1950s television special with Julie Andrews in the title role, doesn't disappoint.

Rather than pad the wispy plot, it emphasizes the pretty, starting with the well-sung score (including the lilting "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful," "Ten Minutes Ago I Saw You" and "In My Own Little Corner") played by a live orchestra led by Dennis Castellano.

Nicole Werner is a notably lovely Cinderella with voice to match, whose quick-change into a glittering blue gown is the show's snappiest highlight.

She is nicely paired with romantic baritone Douglas Carpenter, an acceptably charming prince.

The spare set design, uncredited, suggests watercolor storybook illustrations with skewed angles and is dressed up by Darrell Clark's star-spangled lighting design and an eye-pleasing, candy-colored, hodgepodge of lavish costumes from more than one century past. John Feinstein provides a carefully calibrated sound design.

The show's bells and whistles, in this age of whiz-bang Broadway blockbusters, are modest in the extreme: A regular-sized pumpkin is whisked up out of sight on a wire to herald the arrival of a coach -- a cut-out form drawn by actors wearing horses' heads. Fairy Godmother (Lateefah DeVoe) orchestrates her magic via a light-up broom.

Director Dan Mojica, working with a skilled ensemble and in keeping with the romantic tone, fills in the blanks with graceful balletic choreography.

Comedy, in the persons of the fussy King (Dink O'Neal, complemented by Tracy Lore's sympathetic Queen), the wry Herald (David R. Gordon), Stepmother (Heather Lee) and Stepsisters (Annie V. Ramsey and Jessica Gisin-Mosley) seems restrained, despite Ramsey and Gisin-Mosley's best efforts.

The exception is gorgeous-voiced DeVoe, whose big-gesture, sassy Godmother is a tad overwhelming for the lower-key company.

None of which mattered a whit, however, to the satisfied little fans in dress-up, who flocked around obliging cast members in the lobby for autographs after the show.

lynne.heffley@latimes.com

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'Cinderella'

Where: Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach

When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays

Ends: Dec. 16

Price: $45 to $60

Contact: (310) 372-4477,

www.civiclightopera.com

Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

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