ONE ACT PLAYS & MONOLOGUES by Bruce Kane
After Dark: Can't get her out of
By Brent Hallenbeck
Free Press Staff Writer
So why are we so obsessed with Cinderella?
Why has she been seen in and around Burlington more often this spring than Howard Dean, who actually lives here and not in the Enchanted Kingdom or wherever the heck Cinderella calls home?
Cinderella is in town again this weekend at Burlington City Hall, where Theatre on a Shoestring is putting on an evening of four one-act comedies, one of which features the princess herself. The productions opened Thursday in Contois Auditorium and conclude tonight.
We've seen the gamut of theatrical Cinderella incarnations in the past few weeks. Lyric Theatre opted for the familiar Cinderella in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical named for her. That's the Cinderella who's beautiful and graceful and wide-eyed, the one who falls in love with the perfect man against all odds and lives happily ever after.
St. Michael's College presented Stephen Sondheim's musical "Into the Woods," which tells the story of what becomes of famous fairy-tale characters after happily ever after. That Cinderella is still beautiful, still graceful, still wide-eyed, but she's also a resigned realist, in that way only a princess can be after her charming prince turns out to be a philandering cad.
Now, Theatre on a Shoestring gives us "Cindy and Julie," a one-act play in which Cinderella and Juliet commiserate in their psychiatrist's waiting room about what jerks Prince Charming and Romeo turned out to be. "Cindy and Julie" provides the painstaking post-game analysis of love behaving badly, debunking any lingering myth that idealized romance is possible.
So, yeah, why are we as a culture -- a theater culture, anyway -- so obsessed with Cinderella? In the Rodgers and Hammerstein version, does she represent the quintessential story of the love we all hope to attain, the love that best sums up human existence? Does Sondheim create a Cinderella who reminds us of that too-perfect princess we knew in high school, so we can finally tear her little playhouse down? Does playwright Bruce Kane give us a "Cindy" who reflects our 21st-century, been-there-done-that coolness, one who's so cynical and bitter that there's no room, never will be any room, for love again?
"Happily ever after. What a load of crap," Cindy (played by Blythe Usher) tells Julie (Jennifer Gelb Carbee) with a voice hard enough to shatter a glass slipper.
The evening of one-acts includes Kent Broadhurst's "The Eye of the Beholder," which doles out mounds of pretentious twaddle in a vain attempt to define art. It also has nothing in common thematically with "Cindy and Julie" or the other two thoughtful plays written by Kane.
"Under the Balcony" shows what might have happened if Casanova (Clem Turmel) got hold of Romeo (Kevin Bosley) when light through yonder window broke, then applied his seducing ways to Romeo's pure romantic inclinations. "Prince Charming's Complaint" is a one-man one-act in which the charming one (Ken LaBrie) recounts his failed loves with Rapunzel (cut her hair after they married), Snow White (not so chaste after all, considering those seven short guys she shacked up with) and Sleeping Beauty (took the sleeping in "sleeping together" too literally).
"You can't," Prince Charming moans, "make them happy ever after."
By the end of the play, though, he admits he's fallen for another woman. She's a mysterious, enchanting woman, one who fled at midnight and left behind a lone glass slipper ...
Prince Charming might not be happy ever after. But there's something to be said for hopeful ever after.
Act Plays & Monologues