Sunday, October 24, 2010


Fio and Husband put on their glad rags and drove into Georgetown to justify their Palace Theater season tickets by taking in the first production of the new season, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella.

The theater was stuffed to the gills, mainly with roe. Yes, every child in town was either in the audience or on stage. Obviously a G-rated production, but Fio doesn't need French farce to keep her happy so she sat back to enjoy the show. After all, how can one go wrong with Rodgers and Hammerstein, Fio thought, as she and Husband hummed along to the pre-show music, selections from Oklahoma, South Pacific, and other R&H Broadway hits.

Fio knew the original Cinderella, written for TV, had been a flop, but assumed it had been reworked for the stage. Apparently not. There was some awkward updating of the dialogue, but the story was a pastiche of stereotypical characters, attitudes, and situations, and there wasn't even one memorable tune to alleviate the misery.

The director seemingly couldn't decide whether to present the story as a fairy tale or as an eighties' sitcom, resulting in fake Disney. Fio expected the teapot to start dancing and singing at any moment. Most of the actors were very young, and the impression was that one was watching a high school play with elementary school extras. Only when the adults appeared--the king and queen, the stepmother and stepsisters, the preachy fairy godmother--did the play really come to life. The one exception was young Nick Orzech as Lionel. He's an old pro with a great voice who knows how to command the stage.

There were technical problems too. The first act was so loud that Fio kept her fingers in ears the whole time. The costumes were okay, although Fio questions the decision to swathe all the main characters in white for the wedding scene. But the hair was awful. Judging by the plenitude of ill-fitting, kinky, platinum blond wigs,
Cinderella lived in California.

On the other hand, Fio was totally impressed by the use of scenery on the small Palace stage, particularly the rotating platform as Cinderella was on her way to the ball. The use of lights was nice too, especially the dawn scene and the filter that produced the effect of light dappling through trees.

But Fio wants to pick a few bones with some of the singers. The kid playing the Prince seemed to be a nice young man, and his voice shows promise, but IT NEEDS TRAINING. He must learn how to place it for resonance because otherwise he sounds flat. Also, Cinderella and the narrator had hints of a country-western twang that seemed inappropriate to the fairy tale.

Fiorella almost didn't return to her seat for the second act because of the smoke in the air, apparently from fairy dust. If she dies of mesothelioma within the year, Husband will know whom to sue.

While the show wasn't Fio's cup of tea, the children in the audience seemed to enjoy it, and that was what was important. Fio's not crazy about a two-hour long singing lecture, even for children, but it's certainly more appropriate than The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, at which Fio saw far too many children in the audience.

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