Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cabrillo Music Theatre's Enchanting Cinderella


Cinderella - Cabrillo Music Theatre
Melissa Mitchell and Sally Struthers

A magical Cinderella has waltzed into Cabrillo Music Theatre and will continue to charm audiences through August 1st. Cabrillo’s Artistic Director Lewis Wilkenfeld directs the timeless production where impossible things really do come true in this best of all possible fairy tale worlds.

Cinderella’s Rodgers and Hammerstein score contains some of the most beautiful and well known melodies one can find in the classic musical theatre repertoire. Hearing songs like “In My Own Little Corner,” “Ten Minutes Ago,” “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” and “A Lovely Night” accompanied by a 17-piece orchestra is utterly entrancing with Lloyd Cooper conducting and under the musical direction of Steven Smith.

I always hold my breath when the Herald begins to sing at the top of the show because if he is truly a singer, you know you’re going to be in good hands during the evening. Happily, this Herald (Chris Caron) sings beautifully which paves the way for the glorious voices of Cinderella (Melissa Mitchell) and her Prince (Derek Klena), and the King (Norman Large) and Queen (Christina Saffran Ashford).

Mitchell easily captures the joy and youthful exuberance of Cinderella and a more dashing Prince than Klena would not be easily found. Large is adorable as the somewhat bumbling, yet always endearing, father of the prince and when paired with Ashford’s elegant queen, the Broadway duo adds a meaningful maturity to the production. Their “Boys and Girls like You and Me” is especially moving.
One expects beautiful music in a classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical such as this one, but I had forgotten how funny the libretto is as well. Sally Struthers headlines as Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, pushing the limits with her own special brand of shtick in this unconventional portrayal. Marcia Wallace’s deadpan dragon lady Stepmother is also a play against the usual type.

Stepsisters Joy (Dana Shaw), with her batting eyelashes, and Portia (Ann Myers), with her creaking knees and large, open-mouthed smile are the two comedic scene-stealers here. Actors often tend to overplay the comedy in these two roles, but Shaw and Myers are well-grounded and their antics are just plain laugh-out-loud funny.

Heather Castillo’s choreography works well with the large cast and Adam Bezark provides delightful special effects that create the magical elements in the show. Yes....this Cinderella is truly "a lovely night.”

Tickets for Cabrillo Music Theatre’s Cinderella, which runs through August 1st at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza are available at www.cabrillomusictheatre.com.

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Comedy Faceposted by Ellen Dostal, MusicalsInLA @
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