The clever members of the Emerald City Theatre Group in Chicago know how to fit a lot of fun and entertainment in just one hour.
If you hear a tick-tock, it's the storybook clock from "Cinderella," Emerald City Theatre's entertaining offering for the holidays playing now until Jan. 6 at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut St. and presented with Broadway in Chicago.
Cinderella's cruel stepmother and stepsisters have never been in finer form as the foils to Cinderella's hopes and dreams.
Directed and choreographed by Emerald City Producing Artist Director Ernie Nolan, with adaption and lyrics by Alyn Cardarelli and music by Steve Goers, this 60-minute performance appeals to both parents and children of every age. It is billed as "best suited for children ages 3-10."
Using plenty of imagination and few added twists and turns tossed in just to keep Moms and Dads on their toes, doe-eyed Missy Karle steps into the glistening glass slipper of Cinderella for this telling. A quick-witted beauty with an attractive voice to match, Karle is instantly likable.
Her equal, stacked in evil, is willowy actress Heather Townsend as The Stepmother, who has a comedic talent for delivering quips and asides that aren't wasted on eager audience members of every age. The mavens of mean for this show are Mark Kosten, in garish makeup as stepsister Temperance and Tommy Mullington as Grace, the more goofy stepsister counterpart.
The story remains close to the same, with the addition of contemporary nods for added amusements, like subtle tributes to greats like Joan Crawford, The Andrew Sisters and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
The Fairy Godmother role, played for full effect by Jennifer T. Grubb, gets some added emphasis, as she swigs egg nog and punch while transforming rodents into human equivalents.
The audience needs to keep up and follow along, for a pay-off in the finale that is worth any fairytale kingdom price.
Blake Reddick gets the royal treatment as Prince Jason, with Corey L. Mills as his sneaky, always-up-to-something servant.
Co-scenic designers Robert Groth and Jenniffer Thusing team up to create a simple, quick transformation set that is attractive to the eye, whether played up as the palace decorated for a holiday ball or envisioned as a stone cottage in the forest.
The musical numbers for this production are not only memorable, but the songs are fun and inviting to stick with audiences long after the curtain falls. Stand-outs are "Responsibility" and "The Prince Has Got It Bad."
And as for funny, fresh lines, I'm still chuckling about the Stepmother telling Cinderella to gather eggs from the hen house because of "the demand in the village," because "everyone these days is on a high-protein diet."
All performances include an age appropriate pre-show activity in the lobby and an autograph session with the cast after the performance. The beautiful, keepsake programs are also filled with fun tidbits and young audience friendly questions for discussion and activities.
Even without the other glass slipper, this "Cinderella" is a fit for fun.
Tickets are $16 to $22 at (800) 775-2000 or broadwayinchicago.com or emeraldcitytheatre.com.