BWW Review: CINDERELLA at Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre
On Saturday, April 15, I had the pleasure of attending a refreshingly new twist on the classic children's tale CINDERELLA, brilliantly performed by adults at the Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre in Bridgeport, CT. The performance had the right blend of entertaining theatrical elements to simultaneously appeal to children and adults. The children in the audience enjoyed exclaiming their appropriate responses when the cast members would break the fourth wall to illicit audience participation. The adults meanwhile enjoyed the 1980s music and subtle yet child-friendly comedy that was incorporated into Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre's adaptation of this classic children's story.
Songs made famous by Journey, Whitesnake, Pete Townsend, Cyndi Lauper, Dolly Parton, and others are sung by a highly talented cast whose noticeably fun time on stage radiates forth into the audience. The strong acting and singing performances are accompanied by well timed sound effects, and a brilliant set that at one point includes a fountain with lights that blink in a manner that effectively creates the illusion of flowing water. The dancing and choreography enhance the musical numbers, while quick set changes and costume changes keep the audience's attention and enthusiasm alive and strong throughout both acts.
The central protagonist, Cinderella, portrayed by Lynette Marshall, is a very likeable positive role model who expresses a desire for true love, a yearning more important to her than wanting to marry someone merely because he is a prince. If Cinderella's positive outlook and attitude towards romance is taken to heart by the young girls in the audience, it will help them make wise decisions in the future. Lynette Marshall delivers her lines in a believably convincing manner, with her stage talent furthermore highlighted in her musical numbers, especially on Irene Cara's "What a Feeling."
Eric Regan gives another strong performance, as the very likeable Prince Ferdinand, a prince who wants to identify with the people rather than exalt himself above them. He is a positive role model for the young boys in the audience, as to how to truly be a prince, while he provides the young girls in the audience with a positive example of the personality traits that will exist in someone worthy of being their future prince. Eric Regan brings this character to life, convincingly selling every line with a sincerity that makes the whole audience want the best for his character. His solo performance of Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again," a musical number that ends with amusing choreography, particularly showcases Eric Regan's solo singing talent, while his skill on duets shines forth on Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" performed with Lynette Marshall whose voice complements Eric Regan's voice quite well.
Cinderella's step-sisters are portrayed by Anna Fagan and Ashley DePascale whose stage chemistry with each other makes them very believable sisters. Their pleasant appearance, singing talent, and dancing skills initially create a non-traditional likeability for their characters. While their characters' conventional nastiness soon makes itself clear, it is often overshadowed by their characters' excellently portrayed ditziness, which makes Anna Fagan and Ashley DePascale very entertaining, together on stage, in a uniquely positive way that is typically unexpected from Cinderella's step-sisters.
Grizzelda, the step-mother is portrayed by Lance Anthony, the man who is also the director. The fact that this woman's role is portrayed by a man makes this deliberately dislikeable villain that much more sinister, even though the acting performance is so good that many children may not realize that Grizzelda is portrayed by a man.
The Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre will continue performances of its unique adaptation of CINDERELLA every Saturday and Sunday through May 21, with performances both at noon and 2:30 P.M. on most of those days. I highly recommend this show for children and their parents. This adaptation of CINDERELLA sends positive messages that encourage children to view all people of all social standings as equal, and to (when they are old enough) make romantic choices that elevate true love over perceived gains in social popularity. These positive messages combined with great acting, singing, and dancing make CINDERELLA enjoyable for the whole family.