Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

NC Theatre
Through April 18

North Carolina Theatre’s production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella adapts a play with a complicated history. Originally produced as a live TV musical in 1957 with Julie Andrews, it was produced again for TV with Lesley Ann Warren and a new book in 1965, then once again in 1997 in a Wonderful World of Disney production with Brandy and Whitney Houston, along with yet another book. The new N.C. Theatre show, which draws from elements of these made-for-TV plays, sometimes feels undercooked. Still, there’s just enough magic at work to enchant young audiences.

This Cinderella has a vibrant look most reminiscent of the 1965 version, from James Youmans’ candy-colored scenic designs to Pamela Scofield’s pastel costumes. The effects are often quite charming; Cinderella is accompanied by a series of animals animated as puppets á la The Lion King, and there’s a hugely elaborate carriage to take her to the ball. Her transformation into her evening gown is a nifty piece of sleight-of-hand that should wow children in the audience.

Broadway vet Jessica Rush acquits herself nicely as Cinderella, and Paolo Montalban does commendably as the prince, reprising his role from the 1997 version. Among the supporting players, Stephen Schellhardt from NCT’s The Full Monty gets most of the laughs as the prince’s aide Lionel, and Everett Quinton has some amusing moments in his drag turn as the wicked Stepmother.

Briggs’ book often doesn’t quite know how to pace the jokes or the scenes, and the sound wasn’t quite up to carrying the actors’ voices at the performance I attended. But, this is harmless fun for adults who remember the older TV productions and the younger ones who know the newer version from the Disney Channel.