Colonial Players’ Cinderella Waltz
Ladies: Did you grow up on Cinderella dreams? How did that work out for you?
Gentlemen: Is the prince for real?
Parents: Which frustrates you more — the Disney princess culture or books such as the best-selling Cinderella Ate My Daughter that denigrate it?
No matter your stance, you’ll find much to applaud in Colonial Players’ Cinderella Waltz, Don Nigro’s 1978 farcical retelling of the classic. Bring your mothers’ support group, bring your drinking buddies, but don’t bring your kids. For as the script asks, how does a princess urinate? Unsettling as a penny arcade shock machine and heavy on adult language and themes, this show is for mature audiences only.
The dysfunctional family of this fractured fairy tale is the medieval equivalent of trailer park trash in a neighborhood populated by Grimms’ all-stars.
Bookish dreamer Rosey Snow (Liza Warder), christened Cinderslut by her stepmother (Kathryn Huston), struggles against servitude and the cruel indifference of her stepsisters Regan (Samantha Alagna), the ditzy wench, and Goneril (Olga Petrovic), a disenchanted Goth-like doomsayer.
After 40 years of slaving in the cinder mines, Rosey’s father (Tim Sayles) is too numb to notice her plight, offering only token affection and the overarching advice to watch out for them sillies, his root of familial discord.
But Rosey triumphs with the help of a collection of folk tales she consults at each juncture of her journey, plus a fairy godmother named Mother McGee (Monica Garcia) and the village idiot, Zed (Dann Alagna).
Prince Alf (Pat Reynolds) is blasé as only modern young men can be, going through the motions of the courtship ritual because he must, accompanied by his clumsy but cute retainer, Troll (Thomas Beheler).
The soundtrack hops from classic (Rossini) to country (Steven Curtis Chapman). The storybook set features a floor in illuminated calligraphy. Costumes range from the fairy godmother’s farcical homage to childlike notions of glamour to hats that would humble Princess Eugenie. The outlandish lost slipper is a work of art whose appreciation takes a thorough reading of the historical notes in the lobby display. Those touches help Colonial Players deliver “a zany take on the familiar with a touch of King Lear, Beauty and the Beast, and a generous helping of madcap antics.”
Notable among an outstanding cast is Dann Alagna in the most challenging role of Zed, the vulnerable outcast who metamorphoses from village idiot to erudite philosopher. Garcia is an audience favorite for her over-the-top kookiness as the fairy godmother. Warder delivers palpable ambivalence in her quest for Rosey Snow’s dream. Huston is fabulous for her crudeness and malapropisms as the wicked stepmother.
Reynolds’ “perfect prince” is a perfect creep, and I mean that as a compliment. Samantha Alagna’s radiance as Regan could tickle a smile from even the dourest spectator, and Petrovic’s native Serbian accent lends an exotic air of authenticity to this old European folk tale. Sayles finds the sweetness underlying Mr. Snow’s antipathy, and Beheler is a sympathetic troll in a world of bigots.
This show outshines your strangest dreams while providing food for thought and a twist on happily-ever-after. It’s all that and a bag of pumpkin seeds, so don’t miss your chance for escapist fun, running only two weeks more.
Director and set designer: Jennifer Parris. Sound: Mary Koster. Lights: Richard Koster. Costumes: Beth Terranova.
Playing thru Jan. 21 at 8pm ThFSa; 2pm Su; 7:30pm Jan. 15 at Colonial Players, 108 East St., Annapolis. $20 w/discounts; rsvp: 410-268-7373; www.thecolonialplayers.org.