Ella Enchanted | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Ella Enchanted 

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Griffin Theatre Company reprises its acclaimed adaptation of Gail Carson Levine's 1997 novel--which, according to the American Library Association, is now second only to the Harry Potter books among young readers. Unlike previous portrayals of Cinderella as a victim with good karma, this Ella is a heroine who must embark upon a dangerous quest to break a lifelong spell that forces her into unconditional obedience. Along the way she finds wisdom, maturity, and of course a handsome prince. Though this version includes the classic elements--the glass slippers, the midnight curfew, the evil stepfamily--it's not a conventional telling. Fortunately, most of the original cast members have returned, including Tiffany Scott in the title role, Benjamin Summers as the self-effacing prince, Amanda Putman as the fabulously wicked sister Hattie, and Millie Hurley as the motherly kitchen fairy. As before, Griffin's tech team creates a glittery spectacle of color, light, sound, smoke, and really big wigs (though the costumes look a little tired, everything else has stayed fresh). Even after some editing, the production runs over two hours, but audiences seem to stay enthralled (dare I say spellbound?) to the end. Clearly this vibrant staging has retained its magic. (Note: Miramax Films plans to release its Ella Enchanted in late 2001.) Calo Theatre, 5404 N. Clark, 773-769-2228. Through October 15: Fridays, 7:30 PM; Saturdays, 3 and 7:30 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $15; $10 for children.

--Kim Wilson

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