Star-Bulletin Features

Thursday, September 16, 1999

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
In a scene from the Diamond Head Theater Production of
"Cinderella," from left, Lisa Konove is the step mother,
Frosty Rushforth is step sister No. 1, Stephanie Conching
is step sister No. 2 and Melissa Short is Cinderella.

On a fairytale role

Former Miss Hawaii Melissa
Short is back on track of pursuing
her dream of acting with her first
lead part in 'Cinderella'

By Tim Ryan


A COMMON THREAD RUNS THROUGH Cinderella stories. There's the theme of love and caring; a slipper or shoe; magic in the form of a fairy godmother or godfather; a mean stepmother and stepsisters, a castle and a fancy ball.

Art And of course, there's the hardworking and beautiful Cinderella herself, and Prince Charming who eventually wins her love.

As Walt Disney might have said, it's a story as old as time, and one that continues to delight old and young.

In Diamond Head Theatre's newest offering opening tomorrow, former Miss Hawaii 1996 Melissa Short makes her theatrical debut in an update of the princess-in-waiting tale.

"It's the typical 'Cinderella' story but with a twist, lots of humor, and a love story about the king and queen," Short said. "We all know what will happen in the end but getting there is the best part. This 'Cinderella' is strong willed and not some poor little meek thing."

Short is living her own "Cinderella" fantasy. She was selected for the starring role the first time she auditioned for the stage.

"My dream has always been to be an actor," Short says. "My whole life I've wanted to perform on Broadway."

Short, who at 5-feet-9 belies her namesake, is a determined soul. She began entering pageants at 18 to win scholarships. Her earnings allowed her to attend Hawaii Pacific University.

"I got really caught up in the pageants; I was quite determined," she says. "It took me four years, but I won Miss Hawaii."

But the goal sidetracked her theatrical path. A few months after her Miss Hawaii reign ended, Short started getting singing gigs at corporate conventions here and on the mainland with Larry Paxton, who portrays the king in "Cinderella." Then, about 18 months ago, Short took stock of her life and aspirations.

"I knew I needed to study acting, and dancing ..." she said. "Then I told myself that if my dream really is to be on Broadway I had better audition for a play."

Of course, Short is no babe in the woods when it comes to appearing in public. As Miss Hawaii, she learned stage skills and how to project presence and self-confidence. She's appeared in a "Fantasy Island" episode and an MTV pilot. (She was rejected for "Baywatch Hawaii.")

Short feels a bit embarrassed getting the top role in her first outing.

"Honestly, I don't feel like I've paid my dues," she said. "On the other hand, I wish I had done this a long time ago."

So is Prince Charming myth or reality?

"I know I believe in it," she said. "That ultimate man, the perfect person. Someone who you're totally compatible with, love deeply and have mutual respect."

As for wealth and a castle, Short says, "it would be nice but not required."


Bullet On stage: 8 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays today through Oct. 3.
Bullet Place: Diamond Head Theatre
Bullet Cost: $1O-$40 at the DHT Box Office and selected outlets; or by calling 734-0274 to charge

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