Traci Allen has built her burgeoning career on several years of solid work at the Children's Theatre Company — enough work, in fact, that she is now a company member at the venerable institution. Her performance in the CTC's production of Cinderella positioned her squarely at the top of this troupe's talent pool. In this raucous fairy tale adaptation, an English panto-style production with plenty of audience interaction, crazy slapstick, snippets of pop songs, and — of course — men dressed as women, Allen took center stage. She certainly had some fun with the rest of the company, but her performance also grounded the story in a way that is rarely seen in such whimsical romps. We felt Cinderella's sorrow over her lost mother, her desire to be free from the yoke of her stepmother, and the pure wonderment and joy of finally being the belle of the ball. She also gave the character plenty of toughness: You got the sense that this Cinderella was not going to end up a pushover for her handsome prince, and that balance and strong, clear characterization makes Allen a performer worth watching in the future.