Sunday, May 30, 2010

A new view of Cinderella

No, this is not the beloved Disney schmaltz we all grew up with, not in style or substance. This is Cinderella through the looking glass, to mix children's classics metaphors. It's Cinderella as panto, a storytelling style that mixes Commedia dell'Arte with a bit of British vaudeville — a raucous theatrical goulash that features song, dance, buffoonery, slapstick and, yikes, audience participation. And, yes, the Theater in the Open production of "Cinderella: A Pretty Princess Panto," which runs through June 27 at Maudslay State Park, is packed with silly and timely modern references, everything from BP's horror show in the Gulf to Beyonce. Whoever she is. It also has some very significant, imaginative and, well, zany departures from the usual thing.

Like ...? Okay, since you asked, here are the Top Five:


The Wicked Stepmother (Wicky for short) is not mean at all and is played by a man.

2. Cinderella has to find the lost prince, instead of the other way around.

3. Cinderella and the Prince are very concerned about global warming and work together to fight it.


The villains are taken from other stories, Malificent from "Sleeping Beauty," Ursula from "The Little Mermaid," and Cruella DeVille from "101 Dalmatians."


The cast includes a giraffe who is always showing up at the strangest times and could, quite possibly, save the day.

JUST THE FACTS, MAN: "Cinderella: A Pretty Princess Panto" runs Saturday and Sunday through June 27 at Maudslay State Park. Follow the flags from the main parking lot. Allow 10 minutes to reach the site. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for seniors and students and free for kids age 3 or younger. The June 5 show is free for all. For directions, click here. For more information, call 978-465-2572 or log onto

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Brewing up a bargain

Dude, the whole thing kind of smacks of effort, but this is New England and you know what that means. (That we're, um, thrifty people who will do any anything to save a buck.) And, besides, it's a good excuse to visit the Big Apple and support a hometown band you like in the first place — even though they're playing a couple of local dates in a couple of weeks just up the road a bit. But, anyhow, here's the deal. Drive to New York to see the Brew at The Mercury Lounge. Track down Chizzle, the Amesbury quartet's tour manager, and, someone cue Groucho, say the secret word (that would be shaqulkin, pronounced sha-kul-kin, which probably means something, we have no idea what.) Got it? Then you'll be entered into a raffle to win two weekend passes to one of the major summer music festivals. Like Mountain Jam, which will feature Gov't Mule, Levon Helm and Alison Krauss. And the Brew. Or the Naveva Festival, which will have George Clinton and Parliament Funk and Furthur, the current live-and-kicking project by the Dead's Phil Lesh and Bob Weir. And the Brew. Seems like, with the raffle and all, the odds of getting to one of these hippie fests are pretty slim, but that's just your New England pessimism. The Mercury holds just 200 people and not everyone will know the password, so, if you have the energy for a road trip, you have a good chance of scoring the tickets and bragging rights for bagging a major bargain — the passes for Mountain Jam are worth more than $320. (We're assuming the band's going all-out and including a camping pass.) We'll probably just catch the band at two dates at the Stone Church next month — and curse the bargain that got away. Check 'em out online for more information.