THEATER REVIEW:

Back in 2005, when “Cindy and the Disco Ball” was first produced at the Falcon Theatre, it was just as much fun. This year's production has more singing, more dancing and more dialogue (although there used to be a hilarious tap-dance number that has since disappeared).

Like before, it's geared to appeal to little kids who remain loyal fans of poor, sweet, pretty, put-upon Cinderella, as she finally triumphs over those mean, nasty step-sisters. Cindy is also cleverly geared to appeal to those 40-something parents in the audience, who were still in high school in 1977 when an unforgettable John Travolta strutted down the streets of Brooklyn to the beat of the Bee Gees.

Back again as warm-hearted Cindy is Christine Lakin, who was wonderfully wacky last year as Alice in the Falcon's “Alice in One-Hit Wonderland.” This time around, Lakin is a charmingly intelligent and well-behaved, (read that “not very assertive”) young girl destined for that certain Prince Charming, a high school newspaper editor named Tommy Royal (played with bell-bottomed good looks and sincerity by Alex Miller).

Chris Prinzo plays Buddy, Tommy's best friend and classically goofy sports jock, with good-natured confidence. Melissa Strom as Eleanor, Buddy's disco date and Cindy's incredibly rude and self-centered stepsister whose mood ring is perpetually black, is gorgeous, professional and more than ready for big-time witchery — say, along the lines of Mrs. Danvers in “Rebecca”?

Tying everything together is Connie Jackson as Soul Sister, a combination narrator and fairy godmother, who takes the stage as nothing less than a living, breathing, walking, talking Party Time, with a flair for making everyone feel happy and special. “How are my babies?” she asks sweetly, looking down at the first few rows of 5-year-old-plus audience members.

Were the '70s that much fun? Maybe not, but you wouldn't know that from watching Jackson. And by the way, every member of the cast can sing and dance up a storm.

On the production side, the music and lyrics are sometimes hilarious (“While other girls go out to lunch, I'm Alice from the Brady Bunch”) but at the very least workmanlike and serviceable. The real musical hit of the afternoon was, and remains, everyone dancing to that all-time favorite, “The Hustle,” in a number complete with revolving mirror ball.

The set design by Sherry Santillano is bright and appropriately glaring, and the costumes and hairpieces by Lou Carranza have that perfect touch of crass. Director and co-author Joseph Leo Bwarie has a talent for bringing out the best in all his performers, allowing no one performance in this five-member ensemble to overshadow the others.

A minor technical issue, which will probably be smoothed out in the near future, is the distracting jump in microphone volume whenever the characters switch from their normal speaking voices into song mode.

So if you don't look back fondly on the '70s, when Gerald Ford was president and Pet Rocks were wildly popular Christmas presents, then a brief afternoon with “Cindy” at the Falcon Theatre might change your perspective.


?MARY BURKIN of Burbank is an actress, playwright and Glendale lawyer.

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