Fun holiday comedic ‘Cinderella’

Nothing will put you in the holiday spirit more quickly than the African-American Shakespeare Co.’s seasonal show, a low-tech and engaging “Cinderella.” I caught a Sunday matinee among an audience of squirming, giggling girls in shiny party dresses, many in sparkly tiaras too.

The theater’s Afrocentric script — tweaked by whoever is directing it in a given year — is a delight.

This year, San Francisco Mime Troupe veteran Velina Brown is at the helm, so there is a splash of the troupe’s commedia dell’arte-style physicality, well executed by an adept cast that includes a few kids, but with adults playing the principals and some smaller roles to good effect.

It also features a pair of suitably screechy stepsisters who — in a departure from the company’s recent tradition of casting males in those roles — are women (Leslie Ivy and Beverly McGriff) and attractive, as is a particularly sexy evil stepmother (an icy and sashaying Natasha Noel).

Brown aims to send a sort of beauty-is-as-beauty-does message to little girls, and she mines plenty of comic gold along the way.

The company’s rendition begins with a slightly awkward framing device in which a grandmother (a warm portrayal by Belinda “Beli” Sullivan) relates the familiar fairy tale to calm her grandchildren, a pair of squabbling sisters. (The device does pay off with a nice little twist at the end, though.)

The play then settles into a buoyant rhythm.

A charmingly down-to-earth Cinderella (Khamara Pettus, barefoot with a broom and a vertical Afro) is visited by a zany fairy godmother (Melvina Hayes, hilarious in sunglasses, black leggings and a filmy little cape), who assures her amazed goddaughter that when she goes to the ball — and she will go to the ball, in a glittery white gown (costumes by Kristen Lowe) and coach (set design by Joel Eis) — the prince will recognize her inner beauty.

Particularly nicely staged are the scenes at the masked ball itself, with beautifully choreographed dancing.

A tall and graceful Prince Charming (Matt Jones) tests out a variety of potential princess brides in scenes reminiscent of Petruchio putting Kate through her paces in “The Taming of the Shrew.”

In an especially inspired bit, Jones performs a variety of bizarre dance moves (think Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks) to challenge the sincerity of his rapacious guests.

A scene between the Prince and Cinderella — who initially thinks he’s a footman — is played with quiet simplicity.

At the end, in a nice touch, Cinderella finds her true voice — and her self-worth.

THEATER REVIEW

Cinderella

Presented by the African-American Shakespeare Co.

Where: African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton St., San Francisco

When:
8 p.m. Friday; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $10 to $30

Contact: (800) 838-3006, www.african-americanshakes.org

African-American Shakespeare CompanyartsentertainmentSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Anti-eviction demonstrators rally outside San Francisco Superior Court. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Report: Unpaid rent due to COVID-19 could be up to $32.7M per month

A new city report that attempts to quantify how much rent has… Continue reading

Music venues around The City have largely been unable to reopen due to ongoing pandemic health orders. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF to cut $2.5M in fees to help 300 nightlife venues

San Francisco will cut $2.5 million in fees for hundreds of entertainment… Continue reading

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett departs the U.S. Capitol on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after Ginsburg’s death. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
GOP senators confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court in partisan vote

By Jennifer Haberkorn Los Angeles Times The Senate on Monday confirmed Judge… Continue reading

Curator Tim Burgard looks over a section of the galleries comprising “The de Young Open,” a huge, varied collection of work by Bay Area artists. (Photo courtesy Gary Sexton/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)
Bay Area artists jam-pack vivid ‘de Young Open’

Huge exhibition — with works for sale — showcases diversity, supports community

SF Board of Education vice president Gabriela Lopez and commissioner Alison Collins listen at a news conference condemning recent racist and social media attacks targeted at them and the two student representatives on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Online attacks on school board members denounced by city officials

City officials on Monday condemned the targeting of school board members, both… Continue reading

Most Read