COLUMBIA -- As anyone who goes to live theater regularly knows, the audience tends to skew older, with more people than not sporting gray hair.
So it was especially nice to see a lot of young families with children packing the Fallon House Theatre Saturday night for Sierra Repertory Theatre's performance of the delightful musical "Cinderella."
The upbeat show, which was directed and choreographed by Scott Viets, had children and their parents laughing and bouncing in time to the music.
Sierra Rep has staged the production a number of times before and knows what appeals to the audience. As usual, the company is presenting the version written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and originally broadcast on CBS in 1957 as a special starring Julie Andrews.
The cast members perform their parts in an exaggerated, cartoonlike style that children love. The dialogue is shouted at top volume with the recorded accompaniment pumped up just as loud. No one is going to fall asleep at this show.
Samantha Bruce is perfectly cast in the title role. She is beautiful, sweet and has a lovely soprano voice. You can't help but fall in love with her. Jake Delaney makes for a handsome and talented prince.
Illeana Kirven, who plays the fairy godmother, has a boisterous personality that could fill up two theaters. She sparkles from head to toe in glitter makeup and waves her magic wand with abandon. She has fun singing one of the show's most famous songs, "Impossible, It's Possible."
Kenny Wade Marshall is an over-the-top clown as Lionel, the chief assistant to the royalty. He is pushed and pulled around by all three and is rarely appreciated for his efforts. Real-life husband and wife Ron and Caitlin Randall bicker affectionately as the king and queen.
The most fun performers to watch on stage by far are Heather Orth as the hilariously wicked stepmother and Daniella Painton and Jennylind Parris as her ridiculous daughters. Orth seems to model her performance after the best female Disney villains, such as Cruella DeVille. Painton and Parris are loud, obnoxious and very funny.
Be warned that the trio at one point walks through the seats and chats directly with audience members. Orth asked one man Saturday if he was a prince. When he said he wasn't, she said he couldn't marry her daughters. "If you like it, you have to put a crown on it," she said, referencing a Beyoncé hit.
The dance scenes are lively, with the highlight being a scene where dancing servants carry out food for the prince's ball. Ryan Moller's costumes are elegant and Jay Heiserman and Jeff Cooper's set is a gorgeous imitation of a pop-up storybook.
There were some minor problems Saturday night with hissing and cutting-out mikes, and occasional moments when singers dropped out of tune. But none of those issues detracted from the audience's considerable enjoyment. If you're looking for family entertainment, this fits the bill.
Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan Renner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2313.
Sierra Repertory Theatre's 'Cinderella'
RATING: * * *
WHERE: Fallon House Theatre, Columbia State Historic Park, off Parrotts Ferry Road, Columbia
WHEN: Through Dec. 22 2 p.m. Wednesdays; 7 p.m. most Thursdays; 7 p.m. Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Sundays
RUNNING TIME: 2 hours, including intermission
TICKETS: $18 children, $20 students, $26 to $32 general, $26 to $30 seniors
INFORMATION: (209) 532-3120 or www.sierrarep.org
* * * * Excellent; * * * Good; * * Fair; * Poor