The Other Cinderella | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Other Cinderella 

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THE OTHER CINDERELLA, Black Ensemble Theater. Can an orphan girl from the projects win the heart of the most eligible bachelor in town? Can a poor boy from the hood take a high-profile job and still keep his old friends? Can a WASP from Kansas sing the blues? They can in the Kingdom of Other, where all it takes is some good advice and a boost of confidence to free people from the prejudices that stand in the way of love and fulfillment--that, and a little help from FairyGodMomma.

This latest version of Jackie Taylor's tune-filled urban fable is significantly different from its 1992 incarnation: many of the songs have been reorchestrated to give them a more contemporary sound (the Jamaican- accented FairyGodMomma's delightful "You Make De Wish," for example, now has a reggae beat). Several dance numbers have been added, as has a subplot about two love-struck servants separated by a common cultural misconception; the entire show has been streamlined by directors Taylor and Chuck Smith. Bernadette L. Clarke makes a refreshingly assertive Cinderella, and Christian Payton a refreshingly sensitive but never wimpy Prince. They receive ample support from a capable cast--most notably Michael T. Kachingwe as the mercurial page and Clifford Frazier as the blustering king.

The inspirational message of The Other Cinderella remains the same, and its entertainment value has been improved, so this is a fine introduction to Black Ensemble--or a welcome revival.

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