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BWW Review: CINDERELLA WALTZ Offers Fractured Fairy Tale Fun!

For its first production of its 2015-2016 season, Santa Monica's Morgan-Wixson Theatre presents a fractured fairy-tale retelling in Don Nigro's "Cinderella Waltz" that delivers laughs and leads to rethinking what constitutes a truly happy ending.

Prolific playwright Nigro once told the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism that he values "emotional truths, and every play is a new investigation into truth." His murder mystery "Ravenscroft" currently at the Westchester Playhouse certainly follows that philosophy, and his 1978 "Cinderella Waltz" at the Morgan-Wixson offers a philosophical search for truth by examining the choices made by his quirky fairy-tale characters, especially Cinderella as she considers the all-too-common predicament of whether to choose a life of riches as opposed to a life of true happiness following her heart.

The play investigates the archetypal origins of the world's more popular fairy tale, contrasting the familiar and charming Perrault version with the darker, more ancient and disturbing tale recorded by the brothers Grimm. Grotesque farce and romantic fantasy blend in a fairy tale for adults. Make no mistake - this is not a typical children's telling in that the script is spattered with some very adult language as we follow the fractured Cinderella fairy tale of a poor servant girl mourning the death of her mother as she dreams of a life of wealth and royalty. And listen closely to see just how many references to other whimsical tales you can catch!

William Wilday directs again for the Morgan-Wixson after helming the hilarious farces "Noises Off" and "The Underpants" in recent seasons. This is his third incantation of the play "Cinderella Waltz" as he admitted during the after-show talkback, Nigro's sensibilities appeal to his own way of looking at life as a series of emotional possibilities. His wonderfully alluring yet somewhat simple set and evocative lighting deign enhance each moment of the action. But as several cast members admitted, the well from which many made their entrances and exits proved to be challenging given its smaller than expected dimensions!

L.A. stage newcomer Cathy Marks portrays Rosey Snow, the Cinderella type character who is trapped in a fairy tale world that is, by turns, funny and a little frightening as she deals with her stepsisters, the bitter Goneril (Michelle Paré) and the fluffy-brained Regan (Juliana Desai-Parsons), her demented stepmother (Susan Stangl), her lecherous Long Johns-clad father (Joe Oliva), bewildered Prince Alf (Adam Fox), fairy godmother Mother Magee who sings salty old sailor songs (charismatic scene stealer Julie Hinton), a troll on patrol (Aaron Merken) and Zed, possibly a homicidal village idiot (handsome Scotty Crowe) who eventually proves to be the sanest character of them all.

The production is creatively directed by William Wilday, produced by Anya Ivanova, with uniquely whimsical costumes designed by Christina Garcia and outrageously off-beat jungle-like animal sounds designed by Elias Bates which generated lots of laughs from the audience. But in a fairy tale such as this, even lions and elephants can live near a family hovel in the middle of a great forest on the outskirts of Cinderville.

CINDERELLA WALTZ by Don Nigro continues through October 18th, 2015 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre, located at 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90405. Reserved seats start at $25 online at or call the theatre box office at 310-828-7519.

Rosey Snow (Cathy Marks) brings flowersa to her mother's grave.

Michelle Pare (Goneril), Juliana Desai-Parsons (Regan), Aaron Merken (Troll), and Susan Stangl (Mrs. Snow)

Prince Alf (Adam Fox) decides to invite Mrs. Snow and her daughters to the Ball

Juliana Desai-Parsons (Regan), reads the Prince's invitation to his Ball

Mrs. Snow Susan Stangl) finds a way to complain about everything

Scotty Crowe (Zed) and Julie Hinton (Mother Magee)

Rosey Snow (Cathy Marks) meets Ned, the so-called Village Idiot (Scotty Crowe).

Cathy Marks as Rosey Snow is ready to attend the Ball.

Rosey Snow agrees to try on the shoe left behind at the Prince's Ball. (from left, Joe Oliva, Susan Stangl, Aaron Merken, Cathy Marks, Adam Fox)

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