This year marks the 14th time that the Children's Theatre Company has presented Cinderella, and Gerald Drake has been involved in nearly every production. The veteran company member's first turn in the show came in the late 1960s, when he was part of the ensemble and the understudy for Bain Boehlke's wicked stepmother. In the '80s, Drake would take over the cross-dressing part. "Bain did it six times and I did it six times," Drake says in a chat before rehearsal for CTC's latest production. This time around, he gets to play the Lord Chamberlain, and is part of the ensemble. The production — which features CTC company members Dean Holt and Reed Sigmund (as the step sisters), Traci Allen (as Cinderella), and Autumn Ness (as the stepmother that Boehlke and Drake brought to life in the past), along with plenty of other area talents — draws its inspiration from British pantos. These are special, often seasonal productions that embrace a veritable feast of theatrical styles. "We wanted certain elements like ballet and the splendor; the high comedy and then a moment of shedding a tear. Tyrone Guthrie talked about the English pantos as being a huge meal. It's like going to Manny's and getting a steak and everything and a nice dessert," Drake says. He adds that director Peter Brosius has traveled to England to study the tradition, and has introduced a stronger panto flavor in the show. The production is in previews through Thursday. Check online for additional shows. No performance November 28.
Thursdays, Fridays, 7 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Nov. 14. Continues through Jan. 5, 2013