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March 13, 2012

Glass Mind Theatre explores fairy tale roots, resonances in 'Adapting Cinderella'

This, apparently, is the month to re-examine fairy tales in Baltimore.

A bunch of them are being dissected over at Center Stage in a production of the potent Stephen Sondheim musical "Into the Woods."

One story in particular, that of the abused young woman who loses a slipper and gains a nobleman, has caught the fancy of Glass Mind Theatre, one of the city's ambitious ensemble companies.

"Adapting Cinderella," created by members of the troupe over the past several months, seeks to figure out what all this "once upon a time" and "happily ever after" stuff came from, why we continue to hold onto such notions, why we still wait for a prince or princess.

Other questions include why we don't know enough about the sisters or the witches in these stories ("The Wiz," needless to say, springs from the same sort of questioning). More contemporary matters of bullying, sexuality and ethics also work their way into the play, however briefly.

The 90-minute production at Load of Fun, guided by Glass Mind's founding artistic director Andrew Peters, doesn't ...

entirely hold together structurally, and it gets bogged down in rudimentary choreography and pageantry. Still, there's enough intriguing material here to provide an engaging experience, and enough potential to suggest theatrical possibilities from further development.

Framing the play are scenes in a subway station, where ordinary folks deal with ordinary problems while waiting or panhandling. These scenes contain some of the best writing, by turns comic and bittersweet.

The action dissolves periodically into Cinderella-like stories from ancient times, one of Chinese origin, the other Egyptian. If the linkage with the folks back on the subway platform is a bit of a stretch at times, themes of cruelty, magic and unexpected love certainly ring a bell.

The ensemble -- everyone takes on multiple assignments -- does generally proficient work.

Among those making the strongest impressions are Sarah Ford Gormana, who reveals some serious pipes as the subway singer in an effective prelude to the play; Alex Scally, as a homeless man; Peter Blaine, who provides the narrative thread; and Elizabeth Galuardi, as the hapless Rhodopis in the Egyptian sequence.

A major asset in the bare-bones production is the classy, vividly atmospheric sound design by Andrew Porter.

"Adapting Cinderella" runs through March 25.


Posted by Tim Smith at 9:10 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drama Queens

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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