Eugene Weekly : Theater : 7.10.08

A Madcap Take on Cinderella
Mad Duckling takes the stage

Mad Duckling’s first summer offering, Cinderella, or, It’s Okay to Be Different, serves up a whirlwind of different takes on the classic.

Five high-energy college students in steamer-trunk costumes pound out the freshest Cinderella story around. From the girl obsessed with the glamour and romance of the traditional Cinderella story (Jessie Ryan) to curly-headed Annie Raye Favreau, who “would rather eat oat bran than listen to that story,” they explore the meaning and global incarnations of Cinderella. Commentary in the style of a 6-year-old’s opinions frames three retellings of the story, set in Ancient Egypt, an Algonquin village in Canada and — given a basketball spin — in the streets of Brooklyn, complete with rapping fairies and an exquisite pair of high-tops.

Director Jennifer Thomas funnels the energy of her talented cast, coaxing particularly fine performances from Bethany Osborne-Koch and Andrew Barton. The cast interacts joyfully and respectfully with the audience. The children on the knoll seemed to particularly enjoy helping Joshua Lange as the incredibly unobservant Pharaoh. Katherine McGlamery’s set is messy and serviceable, with delightful backdrops and an inspired barge/chariot.

I must admit to cringing when I heard the title. If it sounds to you like Full Metal Jacket; Alternate Strategies to Increase the Peace, or perhaps Alien; Space Critters Need to Eat, Too! you can relax. Author Cynthia Mercati does an excellent job of pointing out that in interpretations of this story all around the world, the Cinderella character is different  though she tends to possess great generosity of spirit and has developed useful skills. She can also dance and loves animals, which means she has something in common with every 4-year-old I know. With this show your kids will be entertained, and your inner feminist will be satisfied without feeling like you’ve sat through a pint-sized political correctness seminar. The play is great fun. Grab your favorite small friend and go.

Cinderella runs Tuesday through Saturday, through July 19 at 11 a.m. in Amazon Park. Tix available at the door or 346-4192.

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