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The Fabulous Fox brings magic to the stage with a spellbinding production of Cinderella. Theatrical icons, Rogers and Hammerstein introduced their version of the classic tale all the way back in 1957 with Julie Andrews in the lead role.

 

Lesley Ann Warren and R&B singer, Brandy have also tacked the lead role in subsequent versions. Douglas Carter Beane wrote a new book for the show which debuted in 2013 on Broadway. He gave the story new characters and storylines to freshen up the script.

 

During the performance I had two arguments screaming in my head about the update. On one side, why would you take the risk to freshen up a classic? It seems very ballsy to take a tried and true story and put your own stink on it. On the other side, why not try and take some new avenues with a classic story? Maybe some new storylines would take this story to the next level.

 

The big question is does the update work? The answer is, sort of.

 

Let's start with a twist that did work. The addition of political activist, Jean-Michel (David Andino) is intriguing. Jean-Michael is fighting for the people of, well, the “kingdom” who are being evicted off their lands. He falls in love with one of Cinderella's stepsisters, Gabrielle (Kaitlyn Davidson).

 

This is where Beane takes another twist – he makes Gabrielle sympathetic to Cinderella. This is one of the twists that doesn't work. The triple threat of Cinderella’s evil stepmother and her two sisters is one of the more twisted aspects of the original story that should not have been altered. This update softens the story too much.

 

Another update which left me puzzled was the game of “ridicule” played at the ball. This is where Prince Topher (Andy Jones) picks two random people to “read” one another. Each one would insult the other and the prince would pick a winner. This activity seemed out of place in the Cinderella universe.

 

Cinderella ultimately destroyed this game by being nice to her own evil stepmother. Witnessing her act of kindness, everyone in the kingdom decide that bullying is a bad thing and starting being nice to one another which pulled the story right back into place. I am just not sure if this detour was worth the trouble.

 

Good twists and bad turns aside, what really makes this production come to life are the performances and special effects. Paige Faure as Ella is enchanting. This talented actress gave the lead role every ounce of goodness and kindness as Cinderella deserves. Not only with her acting and singing, but Faure shines in the choreography of the show as well. Her performance was delicious from start to finish and I could not take my eyes off her every time she hit the stage.

 

Kecia Lewis as Marie (aka the Fairy Godmother) was equally flawless. With her booming voice, she commanded the stage during “There's Music in You.” Her overall performance made the audience beg for more and she delivered her lines with an amazing amount of charisma.

 

Beth Glover was positively poisonous as Madame, Cinderella's evil stepmother. Her delivery of each line was filled with venom forcing me to love to hate her throughout the entire performance. I have a feeling that Glover can hold her own with any pack of queens. And believe me honey, that is high praise.

 

High praise also goes to Costume Designer William Ivey Long. In spite of the horrendous purple dress Marie is wearing when she transforms into the Fairy Godmother, (what's up with the bustle in the back?) the rest of the costumes and quick costume changes are breathtaking. Watching Cinderella transform onstage is magical and warranted several gasps from the audience – even from this jaded queen.

 

Any way you wave your magical wand at it, this production of Cinderella is magical. It transports you to a far away land and allows you to tap into your own inner princess. THIS is how you do fairytale theater. Be sure to get your ticket before Cinderella hops in her pumpkin carriage and rolls out of town.

 

Cinderella plays through February1st. Please visit fabulousfox.com for show times and ticket prices.

  

You can follow me on Twitter @ReviewerJim

 

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