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Watch out, this glass slipper is a bit cracked

January 15, 2007|Victoria Looseleaf | Special to The Times

A never-ending fascination with a slipper, an abused girl and a besotted prince has made this love triangle terpsichorean fodder since Prokofiev composed his magnificent "Cinderella" score in 1944. In addition to some superb conventional stagings, the saga of the broom-sweeping gamin has been retold by many modern masters, including Maguy Marin and Matthew Bourne, to great effect.

Currently throwing her toe shoe in the ring is dancer-choreographer Sarah Harkness, whose locally based Meh-Tropolis Dance Theatre's forte has been deconstructing classics such as "Giselle" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Unfortunately, Harkness' "Cinderella," which opened Saturday night for a three-weekend run at the Stella Adler Theatre, is a clear case of the shoe not fitting.

Set to Prokofiev and making use of comedic mime, tutus and by-the-book characterizations, Harkness' staging, instead of mixing things up with pop, modern or whatever, trips over the traditional. Yes, Kimberly Rehrer and Melody McKnight (think Nicole Richie and Lindsay Lohan) are splendid as preening, selfish, sadistic stepsisters, with Kristen Mooney equally buffoonish as the louche stepmom, but how much more delicious it would have been if this crew had lived in, well, the Valley, sporting spandex and sky-high hairdos instead of Brianne Gillen's not very fabulous neo-Edwardian garb and big bows.

Compounding matters, Brenda Stevens' Cinderella is no hearth hottie: Never really soaring, whether solo leaping, cavorting with a broom or partnered with her prince, this Cindergirl needs more than a fairy godmother (a wan Erin Riley) to get glam.

Of course, Stevens receives little help from the un-royal-looking Daniel Zuzalek, whose unflattering puffy shirt, cotton pantaloons and flaccid footwork make him look less like a prince than a refugee from Mozart's "Abduction From the Seraglio."

Ditto for Joey Isaia's King and Jon Butcher's Royal Steward. Meh-Tropolis, with its 20-plus dancers of varying abilities and body types, cooks in big messy group numbers and is totally capable of shining new light on an old. Here, however, only the tee-hees work, including Danielle Haskin's goofball Jester and the sight-gag effect of zaftig ballerinas in romantic tutus (Christina Lindeman and Lauren Magboo).

Harkness, who danced an able Winter Fairy and managed to get mileage out of Carla Marie Rugg's straightforward props and Karin Chamberlain's effective lighting, cannot be expected to mount a lavish production in any usual sense.

So, shoe me, but why try then?



Where: Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., second floor

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Jan. 26, 27; 2 p.m. Sunday and Jan. 28

Cost: $15 to $20

Information: (310) 838-2236

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