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Cinderella a Perfect Fit for Young Audience
Paul Brissett, Duluth News Tribune
April 20, 2012
There’s a bewildering range of theater in the Twin Ports for the next couple weekends — unless you’re a pre-teen girl. If you are, Kate Ufema and her team of designers and performers know exactly what you’re looking for, and they provide it with Cinderella, which opened Thursday in the Marshall Performing Arts Center at UMD.
From Ann Gumpper’s set, evoking the style of illustrations in the finest printed versions of the fairy tale, to the picture-perfect Cinderella and the hilariously contrasting evil stepsisters, to Karissa Toutloff’s sumptuous costumes, the production is the story come to life.
Not that the show lacks something for parents and grandparents and their contemporaries. The music, of course, is by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, including “In My Own Little Corner,” “A Lovely Night” and “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful,” performed by the University of Minnesota Duluth Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jean R. Perrault.
In the title role, Faith Engen fits the universal image of Cinderella, petite and fine-featured, with blond hair and blue eyes. She plays shy and demure and cheerful despite being abused, beautifully, and possesses a fine, if somewhat thin, singing voice.
As the evil stepmother, Johanna Dittus is mistress of the scornfully curled lip. Steven Grant Douglas, as stepsister Joy, towers literally head and shoulders over round-faced Emilie LaBonte, who boasts both a decidedly nasty chuckle and a hideously shrieked laugh. The trio’s turns with Engen on “A Lovely Night” point up the lightness of the latter’s voice.
As the dotty fairy godmother, Megan Potter appeared to be having as much fun as any of the pre-teens in the audience.
A “Greek chorus” of sorts comprised a white mouse, a rat and a frog, all in beautifully made masks by Kelly Lasley.
Rebecca Katz Harwood’s choreography was graceful and well-executed, but also blessedly serviceable rather than a show in its own right.
The audience was thick with young ladies, many in their finest attire, and when the prince (Erin Miller) kisses Cinderella for the first time, a wave of giggles and sighs swept the house. And when the prince finally locates Cinderella and is about to try on her glass slipper, a sweet and youthful voice inquired from the dark, “It will fit, right?”
After the curtain and as the house lights came up, Engen and the masked critters remained onstage, receiving adoration from and posing for photos with their fans.
Even the show’s length is suited to those with early bedtimes: It runs an hour and three-quarters, including a 15-minute intermission.
I love Cinderella. I love classic, and I will surely go next time.
This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on April 20, 2012 6:40 PM.
Medea - UMD Theatre was the previous entry in this blog.
Smoke & Mirrors - UMD Stage 2 is the next entry in this blog.
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