You don’t need to have a youngster in tow to enjoy the Children’s Theatre’s latest production.
Playwright John Davidson’s adaptation of “Cinderella,” which boisterously kicked off the holiday season on Friday in Minneapolis, is a sidesplittingly funny romp suitable for adults and youngsters alike.
The title character, who goes from a floor-scrubbing stepdaughter to a princess, gets a flawless embodiment by Traci Allen. Her sweet singing and inviting, empathetic portrayal is captivating at both ends of the social spectrum. In rags, her put-upon, much-abused Cinderella is hopeful and dignified. As a princess, she is graceful, gorgeous and humble.
It’s a good thing that Allen is so strong in the title role, because the comic trio that plays her stepfamily could be voted Most Likely to Upstage Her in Peter Brosius’ no-holds-barred pantomime production. His delightful staging, which is stuffed with physical comedy, fun music (arranged or composed by Victor Zupanc) and exciting audience interaction, really belongs to Cinderella’s gauche family.
Stepmother (Autumn Ness) and her bickering daughters Pearl (Dean Holt) and Dorcas (Reed Sigmund) dominate their scenes with endless gags and physical humor that never gets old.
Dorcas, who looks like Miss Piggy and is called Tammy Swine-ette by Pearl, grooms herself at the table, inappropriately shaving her underarms. And she licks her sister’s toast before handing it to her. Food is never far from Dorcas’ mind.
When the trio realizes that the stepdaughter they have been mistreating may have the foot that fits the glass slipper, they react with shorthand from social media.
Stepmother says, “O.M.G.” Pearl: “L.O.L.” Dorcas: “K.F.C.”
Pearl, who at one point loses her wig to reveal a bald head, gets a ragdoll-like performance by Holt. Both Sigmund and Holt play the scales vocally, lowering their voices for comic effect at crucial intervals. Ness is masterful as Stepmother, with a performance that recalls a Sunday schoolmarm and a tacky relative.
Aside from Zupanc’s original interludes, the show’s musical selections include snippets from Justin Bieber and One Direction, Whitney Houston and the Village People.
Allen’s adagio singing of Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” near the top of the show is surprising and effective. She makes us hear a popular song in an introspective new light.
Similarly, Nathan Barlow, who plays the Prince, proves himself a powerhouse singer.
It is nice to have a holiday show that is such a treat.