by Terrance Mc Arthur
The Fairy Godmother waves her wand and Cinderella’s rags magically transform into a beautiful ball gown and glass slippers…that is so retro-Disney.
In Shine! Youth Theatre’s Cindy! A Cinderella Pop Musical, the Fairy Godmother wears glasses, the wand is a soap-bubble shooter, the glass slippers are classic-black-lace-up basketball sneakers, and the skirt of the ball-gown….well, that really is the stuff of fairy-tale magic.
Director Tony Sanders has crafted a simplified, updated, off-the-wall look at a traditional story with a cast of children, teens, and neo-adults. Placing the audience along the walls of The Voice Shop’s performance space creates a tennis-court-style atmosphere that brings the action closer to the audience for an intimate experience.
In this version, the girl’s name is really Cierella, but evil, spoiled step-sisters being what they are, they call her Cinderella because she’s been cleaning the fireplace when her new family members arrive. Gabby Roberts has a gentle, radiant glow as Cindy, tall and slender, elegant in grubby work clothes, graceful and alluring at the let’s-marry-off-the-prince dance. She sings sweetly, but some songs should be in lower keys. Brennan Tozlian is tall and thin in black-skinny-leg jeans, adorably-geeky in his crown, and truly a Prince Charming in his meet-cute with Cindy over a bottle of blueberry soda in the market.
Maria Monreal is maternal and loving as Cindy’s mother, teaching her to love work as they clean the house singing “This Mess Ain’t So Bad.” She waxes ethereal as the bluish Fairy Godmother, and gets to be scatterbrained as the Queen. Tim Fletcher slowly changes from ineffectual to steely and strong as he realizes what his second wife is doing to his daughter, and he sounds like old-school money as the King. Fletcher and Monreal blend enchantingly as they sing of their love for their child in a tender moment.
Audriana Moody oozes greed and malice as the wickedest of wicked stepmothers, telling Cindy that “Ladies Like Us” always have servants, and the girl is now hers. She handles onstage mishaps well, and shows strength in her character, even when she is at her most reprehensible. Alyssa Vargas and Emily Zuniga as the stepsisters Formaldehyde and Tarantula are stifling and venomous, gleefully looking down on their new surroundings and step-family.
One of the special charms of Cindy! is Gianna Reyes as Fauntleroy, servant-assistant-advisor to the Prince. Her attempts to teach the young royal how to approach women with animal magnetism, to a tune that echoes the themes of James Bond, is a comic highlight.
Cindy! is cute, simple, innocent, and fun. See it with a child, so you can share the thrill of that moment when Cierella lights up the stage. The show runs through July 23 at The Voice Shop, 1296 N. Wishon. For more information, call (559) 549-4741. For tickets ($7.50 and $12.50), go to www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2570422.
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