Hailed as “Crackling with sweetness and freshness” and “Brightly colored, high spirited and well-sung”, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella has arrived on Broadway 56 years after Julie Andrews enchanted audiences in the original TV musical. With dazzling dance sequences, ridiculously fun wigs and a wide appeal from it’s witty but profound new book by Douglas Carter Beane, Cinderella is everything (and more) that you’d expect.
If “Impossible things are happening every day”, then it’s almost impossible to think it took almost 6 decades to bring this popular title to the Broadway stage. Following workshops in 2012, with it’s leads (Laura Osnes as Cinderella, Santino Fontana as Prince Topher), Cinderella skipped an out-of-town tryout and opened on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre in March of 2013. Although the show was met with lukewarm reviews, the show racked up nine Tony Award nominations, winning only one for William Ivey Long’s beaded gowns and intricately sewn headpieces.
Speaking of the dresses- oh, the dresses. Here’s a spoiler for you if you haven’t seen the show – but Cinderella employed some old-fashioned but flawless and seamless dress transformation. Ella spins and her rags are spun into a white gown – she falls onto a tree stage right and a petticoat swings around her waist and her bonnet drops to reveal her new curls. It’s simple, but magical. And if you weren’t paying well enough attention the first time, Ella again spins her coral rags in Act ll into a golden, flowing gown.
In addition to the magical, eye-popping costumes, the freshened book is paired with an up-to-par updated score, which soars with “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful”, and showcases the Fairy Godmother in the 11 o’clock “There is Music in You”. While all the added songs are from the R + H trunk, they all find their place perfectly in the show. Douglas Carter Beane’s new book, (if you know Beane you’re familiar with his humour), has stuffed the show with memorable moments, turning Cinderella, a neglected daughter who cleans the fire and mopes to Ella, a young woman who learns to live with charity, generosity and kindness, revealing herself to the Prince in her true form. Beane’s underlying tones of kindness and sincerity make for a new kind of Cinderella that audiences love.
Let’s not forget the actual ROLE itself, however – Julie Andrews originated the musical version of the role, with Brandy following up in 1997 with a surprisingly engaging take on Cinderella. The coveted nature of playing Cinderella has not died down, oh no – Osnes (Grease, South Pacific, Anything Goes, Bonnie & Clyde) opened the Broadway production in the titular role, cleverly renamed “Ella”. Osnes’ performance earned her a second Tony Award Nomination. She was succeeded by pop artist Carly Rae Jepsen, who joined the company in February, before being replaced by Broadway vet Paige Faure, who had portrayed Ella in the creative stages of the show. Paige will continue her reign as Princess on the National Tour. But the show’s newest headline is its newest Princess – TV and Film persona Keke Palmer, who is not only making her Broadway debut but history as the first African-American to portray the role on Broadway.
“If you have a dream, then very soon thereafter you’re going to have to fight for it.”, says The Fairy Godmother in Act ll, and truer words have never been spoken – audiences are fighting to see Cinderella and it’s star-studded cast and magical moments, and it’s well worth it.