September 12, 2003


The Commedia Cinderella

reviewed by
Lynn Trenning











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special to The Charlotte Observer

The Commedia Cinderella is not for purists. Originally written by Parisian Charles Perrault, the fairy tale has been adapted by Lane Riosley and is performed in the 16th century style of Commedia dell’arte. There are enough accents to challenge Meryl Streep, and enough colors to satisfy Liberace. The resulting chaos is alternately dizzying and comic.

New Tarradiddle Players Beth Gardner and Joy Blythe join veterans Travis Creston and Steven Ivey as a troop of Italian performers who variously drop their accents in the recreation of a Prince, his servant, an evil stepfamily, and the practical and lovable Cinderella. There is a lot of upfront battling over who gets to play who, that occasionally ends with the men batting each other with long sticks of bread.

Gardner is a straightforward Cinderella, whose hideous stepsisters Dither and Simper abuse her mercilessly. But when she is approached by her fairy godmother, Cinderella admits she doesn’t believe in magic. As the Godmother, Blythe’s accent drifts from Brooklynese to Italian as she convinces Cinderella to give the supernatural a chance.

The original music was written by Aven Stevenson, and is performed with a tambourine, a triangle and chimes. Eric Winkenwerder uses lights to create a castle, a curtained window, and a barrage of red hearts that cast both mood and place. Costumer Amy Ackerblom succeeds in creating truly atrocious color combinations. Creston’s costumes are the most offensive. His gold and purple patchwork suit, and his pink and rust dress adorned by huge yellow bows would elicit laughter on a hanger.

Creston and Ivey won the biggest laughs every time they emerged dressed as women. That universal device translates into every language.

Lynn Trenning, September 12, 2003

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