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Laugh your ash off

Centerstage dusts off â€Å"Cinderella” with musical

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The parade of princess shows continues in the South Sound. Tacoma Little Theatre, as you know, is finishing its run of “Sleeping Beauty” this weekend just as Federal Way’s Centerstage Theatre is staging “Cinderella.”

This version of the show comes to the South Sound in the tradition of the English pantomime — not the painted faces and no words sort of pantomime, silly.

Known as a “panto” for short, these holiday shows are a mix of slapstick and audience participation with a dash of wit and a smidgeon of tongue-in-cheek humor with pithy asides and one-liners. Bubble that concoction with a spoonful of dance numbers, a scoop of men in drag and a few shavings of leggy cross-dressing women in leather boots. That’s the panto version of “Cinderella.”

And it was great. A show is worth watching anytime Fife is a punch line when it is compared to Paris. Wisecracking about the Auburn SuperMall never gets old, either. The show is filled with local jokes and over-the-top gags, often at the expense of an unsuspecting audience member stupid enough to sit in the front row and make eye contact with a towering man in a bustling dress. I drew the short straw when I reviewed the show with my daughter, much to her amusement as her old man became the target of many a well-placed joke.

While there are many shows with similar childlike humor and slapstick gags, this show stood apart because the cast members honestly seemed like they were having a blast performing the show since they were encouraged to take all of those inside jokes and gags casts often joke about during rehearsal and weave them into the show. That said, their acting talents were superb. All eyes — young and bifocal-clad alike — were in on the action as the play darted from one side of the stage to the other.

Standouts of the show were: übertalented Hilary Heinz as the woman-in-drag Prince Charming and Alexandra Blouin as her/his dutifully blundering valet, Dandini. But then, of course, there were the men in dresses who gave me guff, Roger Curtis and Terry Edward Moore, who hammed up their roles as Cinderella’s ugly sisters, Britany and Beyonce. Oh, and there were the performances of the high-energy Scott Polovitch-Davis as Buttons and Alicia Mendez, who quite possibly has the most expressively hypnotic eyes an actress could have. Binding the show together was the grandmotherly fairly godmother played by Rosalie Hilburn, who comes complete with wings by the time the curtains fall.

This is a show to watch with children or at least with a child’s heart.

[Knutzen Family Theater, through Dec. 23, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, $8-$25, 3200 S.W. Dash Point Road, Federal Way, 253.661.1444]                                            

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