Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cinderella Waltz by Don Nigro, Red Dragon Players, Austin High School, January 19 - 21

Cinderella Waltz Don Nigro Austin High School TX

The mischievous Don Nigro puts the Cinderella fairy tale into a humorous trailer-park context and sends it spinning around so unpredictably that you're never quite sure whether the sweet, mistreated Rosie Snow is going to turn up roses or not.

Shannon Tipton directed a one-act version of the story last week as her inaugural outing with the Austin High School Red Dragons with their 401st stage production. It was a "novice" production with a cast of faces mostly new to me, for I missed their Jungle Book earlier this year.

The core story is there, of course, with the sweetly downcast Louise Root as the titular character, afflicted by her garish, dim and horrible stepmother (Samantha Melomo) and stepsisters wearing names from Shakespeare's King Lear -- booted, grumpy Goth-style Goneril (Layla Gilliland) and Barbie-esque Reagan (Abby Lewis). Dull-witted Dad (Oliver Davis), sort of like Jed Clampett, spends most of his time in the trailer behind the playing area, hollering for help in finding his pants.

McCoy Johnston, Louise Root (image: Red Dragon Players)Nigro plants a troll in the well at center stage. Or rather, an affably confused royal flunky named "Troll," who fell in while wandering around the countryside, delivering invitations to the ball on behalf of the prince. Zach Completo makes his trollish footman (or perhaps footmanish troll) entirely likeable, abashed but eager to please, quite baffled by the determination of Mama Snow to get herself and her two favored girls into the palace.

Add McCoy Johnston as the village idiot, touseled, dirty and moaning in inarticulate frustration, prototype of the "barefoot boy with cheek of tan" and prime material for a potential makeover -- he is at turns silly and touching. Riley Ryan-Wood as Mother Maggie pops out of the wishing well when needed, an ironic fairy godmother who'd be entirely at ease in an afterhours lush life bar.

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