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Columbia production brings fresh twist to 'Cinderella'
When I first learned that Sierra Repertory Theater was staging "Cinderella" at the historic Fallon House Theatre in Columbia, I bristled with the thought that I'd have to suffer through an all-too-familiar story line since I'd been Bibbi bobidied boo ad nauseum through my kids' countless viewings of the Disney classic two decades ago.

I was surprised, however, at how entertaining "Cinderella" has proved in the gold country. The family storybook musical comedy is just plain fun with enough comedic elements to keep it zipping along. And while there are Rodgers and Hammerstein musical numbers most of us have heard, I wasn't yawning through any of them, including "Ten Minutes Ago," "In My Own Little Corner" and "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful."

Cinderella opened Oct. 26 but plays through Sunday, Dec. 22. It's definitely worth seeing this version - with or without the kids - even if you were burned out on the Disney version.

Virtually everyone knows the Cinderella story with its happy ending but SRT's journey is enjoyable. We quickly sympathize with the mistreated Cinderella, played by the beautiful and charming Samantha Bruce is Cinderella, and loathe the nasty stepmother in Heather Orth. Normally I'd detest the two cruel-hearted stepsisters in Jennylind Parris and Daniella Painton; but because they are so clueless they're cute and farcically funny you forget that you're supposed to hate them. Besides, you know the poetic justice coming to them in the end.

The storybook set is fun and bright and opens with a bored Prince Charming in Jake Delaney who is pressured by his mother, the Queen, to find the right woman to marry. The prince is attended to be a zany but loveable valet, Lionel (Kenny Wade Marshall) who at first comes off as exaggerated with his high-pitched voice and facial reactions but grows on you as he becomes frazzled at the demands placed on him by his royal employers. The story follows the prince in a chance encounter and being smitten by Cinderella, and the two later meeting at the royal ball.

Look for a lot of laughs with the street smarts version of the African American fairy godmother who delivers a lot of zingers and not just through her defective magic ward.

The real star of SRT's Cinderella is the beautiful Bruce due to her superb acting and amazing voice. Delhaney pulls off his part well.

I found myself grinning when the stepmother and daughters gaited onto the floor to distract the audience during a scene change and Orth engaged in quick-witted exchanges with random audience members. If being talked to by the cruel stepmother mortifies you, I'd suggest ditching a front row seat but otherwise play the role of a good sport.

The play was so entertaining it seemed shorter than the two hours I sat there. Cinderella is also your last chance to catch Bruce, who is leaving the mountain venue for the next phase in her career.

Most Thursday and Friday performances begin at 7 p.m., Saturday evening shows begin at 8 and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees begin at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $26-$32 depending on the day of the performance. The show is rated G, suitable for ages 6 and up. For more information or reservations, call Sierra Rep's box office at 532-3120 or visit