Cinderella, a Hip-Hop Tale of an Illegal Alien | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Cinderella, a Hip-Hop Tale of an Illegal Alien 

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Cinderella, a hip-hop tale of an illegal alien, at Bailiwick Repertory. Czarina Mirani's feminist retelling vaults the Cinderella story into the mythical hip-hop kingdom of UKA, where the narrator raps the introduction, the prince leaves his graffiti tag on the walls, and battles are fought by break dancing. Cinderella (Mirani), who owns a hip-hop club, is an illegal alien about to be deported; the stepsisters are not her nemeses, but sexy, supportive members of her posse; the glass slipper is a sneaker borrowed from a drug dealer who's perpetually high.

This fun, streetwise cartoon of a show is entertaining despite dismal acting (the exceptions are Joel Maisonet as the head of the INS, Boogie McLarin as a street-smart sister, and Otto "Juice" Horton as the prince's rock-steady friend). Every character is a stereotype--the English-mangling Latino INS official, a pimplike club owner, a clueless white boy--but under Erica Watson's direction the multiracial cast is funny, not offensive. "This is not Steppenwolf," Watson announces before the show--and indeed the atmosphere is more dance club than theater. A DJ spins ear-splitting music (curiously, all by male artists), the stage smoke and obscenities come thick and fast, and the dancing is exciting, if not original.

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