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Stage Right

Theater reviews by Examiner staff and contributors
Of The Examiner Staff

  

    Cinderella
    San Francisco Shakespeare Festival

    This new production of "Cinderella" is more Monty Python than the Brothers Grimm. It features burly "damsels" in dresses, a singing San Francisco supe and a robustly off-key audience sing-along set to an old Neil Diamond tune. There's even a classic Laurel and Hardy pratfall tucked in for good measure.

    Director Allen McKelvey gives us a high-spirited evening in the British "Panto" style with this homegrown holiday show based on Stuart McKie's book. It features traditional cross-dressing and outre comic bits where the framework of the story is secondary to spoofs. The audience is expected to pitch in, too -- hooting, hissing and occasionally singing.

    It's a cross between the full-on participation of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and clapping to save Tinkerbell in "Peter Pan."

    The standard storyline holds: Shabbily dressed girl languishing in ashes is rescued by fairy godmother, magically whisked off in a pumpkin coach pulled by white mice to meet prince at castle ball and lose a shoe, thereby launching a kingdom-wide search for the princess-to-be that stops just short of pasting her picture on milk cartons.

    The cartoonish elements that take "Cinderella" over the top visually are costumer Derek Sullivan's oversized royal chapeaus, with crowns the size of footstools, and Leigh Henderson's stylized sets with skewed perspectives and Crayola-bright colors.

    Surprisingly, one of the best vocal numbers one night was sung by guest celebrity and San Francisco City Supervisor Tony Hall, who did a suave version of the old doo-wop ditty, "ShhBoom." (Guest celebs are scheduled to appear throughout the run, including supes Tom Ammiano and Gavin Newsom, as well as Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon and KRON-TV sports anchor Vernon Glenn.) (Pamela Fisher)

    "Cinderella" continues through Dec. 22 at the Ira & Leonore S. Gershwin Theater, 2350 Turk Blvd., San Francisco. Tickets cost $19 to $26. Visit http://www.tix.com/ or call (415) 392-4400.