A Charming Spell

The Nomad Theatre's Cinderella, directed by Deborah Curtis, is perfect for children. It's slight, charming, tuneful and funny. There's no uncertainty about the story or how it will end, so you can just settle in and enjoy the talented performers and Rodgers and Hammerstein's songs.

The evening opens with the entire cast on stage, singing "The Prince Is Giving a Ball." They do look rather crowded, and the choreography is elementary, but we're soon won over when the action begins. Scott Foster is a huggy-bear of a prince, with a thrillingly suitable voice for the love songs at which Richard Rodgers so excelled -- in this case, "The Sweetest Sounds," "Ten Minutes Ago" and "Do I Love You (Because You're Beautiful)?" He's vocally compatible with Jessica Hudspeth's appropriately shy and graceful Cinderella. When she offers him water to ease his thirst, it's a genuinely sweet moment. Gregg Adams provides solid support as the Prince's valet, Lionel, and the king and queen (Paul Hindman and Marian Rothschild) are every bit as majestic as they should be. Neither of them are singers, and they speak-sing the songs in the time-honored tradition of Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady.

The stepsisters come close to stealing the show, as stepsisters are wont to do. Ashley Albiniak is caustic and sly, and she's well-matched by Carol Anne Lopez, as tall Calliope, whose silvery giggles have an unfortunate way of ending in snorts. The two of them romp away with "Stepsisters' Lament."

I had seen the name Sam Kent in the program, and wondered what it portended -- Kent is the onetime owner of a Boulder magic shop. The tip-off was the transformation scene. Even the adults in the audience gasped when the pumpkin turned into a coach (we were also impressed by the movement of the horse's legs), but the next event topped that: Cinderella twirled and -- in front of our eyes -- her sparrow-brown rags became a glittering white dress.

Then came intermission. The audience spilled into the lobby to discover that it, too, had been transformed: It was now warmly decorated and alive with lights. Beautiful young women welcomed us to the Prince's ball and eventually, to ecstatic shrieks from the same young women, the Prince himself appeared and danced with a couple of starry-eyed little girls from the audience.

Production values at Nomad tend to be clunky. There were contemporary pants under the men's period jerkins; the Fairy Godmother (Stephany Roscoe) wore a shiny red cloak over her clashingly bright pink dress. The set seemed avoidably ugly, even given the small stage, though the ballroom and courtyard scenes were attractive. And the delightful courtship of the Prince and Cinderella was marred by some graceless movement. But go see it for the lively cast, the stellar songs and the familial warmth of the evening.

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Juliet Wittman is an investigative reporter and critic with a passion for theater, literature, social justice and food. She has reviewed theater for Westword for over a decade; for many years, she also reviewed memoirs for the Washington Post. She has won several journalism awards and published essays and short stories in literary magazines. Her novel, Stocker's Kitchen, can be obtained at select local bookstores and on Amazon.
Contact: Juliet Wittman