With a well-rehearsed and thoroughly professional cast of 40 - children ages 5 to 14 - Talent Machine Company's production of "Cinderella" opened last weekend in Annapolis.
Founder Bobbi Smith managed to bring some new twists to the old tale, and her sister, Vicki Smith, created some lively choreography. Sets and costumes reflected hours of behind-the-scenes volunteer work, especially the skills of the talented Scott couple - Jerry on sets and Linda on costumes.
All the elements for another Talent Machine hit were there - except for the full house of families, friends and fans that the effort deserved. The audience of less than 100 looked sparse in the 550-seat Key Auditorium at St. John's College.
The TMC kids are troupers who gave their all in Sunday's opening performance, seeming unaffected by the audience size.
Smith expects a lot from her cast, and the children deliver. The high acrobatic level is astonishing. Added treats include mere tots tap dancing with precision, boys fand girls paired in spirited tarantellas and waltzing gracefully at the ball, and some fine singing.
Smith has brought fun and new humor to the story. The mean stepsisters and their wicked mother are hilarious klutzes, short on grace and long on chutzpah. The wicked stepmother (Rachel Scott) delivers her comic lines in a wisecracking style reminiscent of the late comedian Martha Raye, and also sings well.
The mice are funny and cute, dressed in shirts and ties. High comedy ensues in the scene when all the mice have scattered, terrified of the stepsisters, and one little mouse remains perched atop the table happily chewing on his grapes, unaware of everyone.
The hallmark of Talent Machine productions is the high energy level when the whole ensemble is on stage together. This magic occurred in the tarantella danced in the village square and in the lively dancing mice number.
"Cinderella" continues at Key Auditorium on weekends through July 15. Tickets are $10 and may be ordered by calling 410-956-0512.