Saturday, May 5, 2018

"Tinderella" ☼ ☼ ☼

A two-act comedy with an intriguing concept, "Tinderella" has some very funny moments, particularly in Act One. "Cinderella in the age of Tinder" gives us the young princess searching for love as well as dealing with her wicked sisters, a handsome young prince, kind of, golden slippers that turn out to be dazzling high heels, and a roommate who Disney never imagined. The roommate steals Act one. Ah, if Act 2 had only kept it up.

Rose Oser wrote the book which has many pluses, but the lyrics by Weston Scott and music by Christian B. Schmidt give us little to hang our hat on. Yes, this is a farce, and we should not hope for dazzling lyrics and soaring melodies, but the most entertaining song in the show is called "Dick Pix" and consists of a bunch of guys jumping around taking selfies of their private parts while singing "Dick Pix! Dick Pix! Dick Pix!"

Tinderella has two standout performers. We loved Juliana Lustenader as Meg, the blonde straight girl, and Branden Noel Thomas as Dylan, her gay (and large) roommate. Dylan convinces Meg to go on Tinder to meet the love of her life, though he has had no luck finding his. Lustenader stays in character and sings beautifully, while Thomas has a big, gospely voice. We wish he had been given a vehicle to show it off better.

The music, in general, is upbeat. At the curtain of Act One we were excited to see where the show would go, and how the characters would develop. Act Two begins with two excellent songs ("Super Cool Party" and "Slow Grind Love Song") but it's all downhill from there. The side-story of Marcus (Jackson Thea) and Julie (Sarah Jiang) bogs down because Marcus is so incredibly vacuous. Everyone knows Sarah will do what she wants and Marcus will forever remain a doofus.

We love Meredith Joelle Charlson's choreography, made even more impressive by the small stage. We were also impressed with the ensemble singing, especially the crew of Andrew Chung, James Seifert and Ryan Wakamiya. Don't get me wrong: "Dick Pix!" is hysterical.

RATINGS ☼ ☼ ☼ 
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division gives "Tinderella" an A for effort and a B for the cast. This translates as Three Stars. We hope some rewriting of Act Two is in store and we would love to have a song in our heads besides three guys shouting "Dick Pix! Dick Pix! Dick Pix!"

Custom Made Theater
533 Sutter Street, San Francisco
Through May 26

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