Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat

Step in to a bright, beautiful world this holiday season, as Sierra Repertory Theatre presents a beloved family classic, filled with great music, zany characters and an enduring story of true love.Rodger and Hammerstein's "Cinderella," a musical comedy favorite for generations, opens Friday at the Fallon House Theater in Columbia State Historic Park and continues through Dec. 22.

"This show has such appeal for all ages," said SRT Artistic Director Scott Viets, who also serves as director and choreographer. "Kids will love the enchantment, but any grown-ups expecting a 'kiddie show' are in for a real treat. There's a lot of humor for them, too."

Most everyone knows the story and the ending. The fun is in the fantasy and the vivid characters: the beautiful heroine, the horrid stepsisters and their mean-spirited mother, the magical fairy godmother, a frazzled butler, a lovestruck prince and a magical, moonlit ball where anything is possible before the clock strikes midnight.

"Who doesn't want this kind of magical, funny escape?" Viets asked. "You get these over-the-top characters who are completely ridiculous, and they're juxtaposed by Cinderella and the prince, who are quite real. We're rooting for them, and this Rodgers and Hammerstein version blends them so well."

Rodgers and Hammerstein originally created the show as a hugely popular television special, then adapted it later for the stage. The upbeat musical score has a pop feel and is filled with familiar favorites, including "Ten Minutes Ago," "In My Own Little Corner" and "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful."

Sierra Rep had a smash hit with this show a decade ago, and Viets said he and his new cast are looking forward to bringing it to a whole new generation of families.

SRT company actor Samantha Bruce is Cinderella and Jake Delaney is Prince Charming. The two were paired up in SRT's season opening "Gypsy," with Bruce in the title role and Delaney as the dancer Tulsa.

Viets said they're wonderful together and said Bruce shines in this latest role.

"The breadth of her work this year has been so impressive - from Gypsy Rose Lee to Julie Jordan in 'Carousel' and now this role - three completely different characterizations, all blessed with her gorgeous voice. Her Cinderella is going to be very unique - intelligent and complex."

Both main characters, Viets said, aren't what you might expect.

"This Cinderella is not looking to be rescued. She isn't sure what she wants, but she's sure there's more than what life has dealt her … and the prince knows he comes from privilege, but he's looking for inner happiness. Those are positive messages for young people."

As contrast, expect outrageous fun from the rest of the characters. Heather Orth, who played Mama Rose in SRT's "Gypsy" and Cousin Netty in "Carousel," takes a comic turn as the mean stepmother, and Jennylind Parris and Daniella Painton are her clueless daughters.

Parris has been in several shows with Sierra Rep, including this fall's "I Love a Piano," and Painton is a newcomer to Sierra Rep.

Also back are Illeana Kirven, reprising her role as the fairy godmother, SRT favorites Ron and Caitlin Randall as the King and Queen, and Kenny Wade Marshall (SRT's "Guys and Dolls" and "The Big Bang") as the prince's loveable valet, Lionel.

Completing the ensemble are Ashley Townsend, Ariel Neydavoud, Kayla Hart, Emily Gordon, Mike Fiore and Lucas Coleman.

SRT's Mark Seiver is the musical director andSRT technical director Jeff Cooper is adapting the "pop-up" storybook set originally designed by San Diego designer Jay Heiserman.

The extravagant costumes are designed by guest artist Ryan Moller. Props are being designed by SRT's Mercy Sharpe, lighting design is by SRT's Christopher Van Tuyl and the stage manager is SRT's Doug Brennan.

Thursday and Friday performances begin at 7 p.m., Saturday evening shows begin at 8 p.m. and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees begin at 2 p.m.

A special "talk back" performance with the cast and crew is scheduled Thursday, Nov. 8.

Tickets are $26 to $32 depending on the day of the performance. The show is rated G, suitable for ages 6 and up. Younger children may attend this show, but they must be mature enough to be a quiet audience member.

For more information or reservations, call Sierra Rep's box office at 532-3120 or visit Sierra Rep at