I’m taking a sidestep from Chicago Theater Week to offer you a review round-up of Rodger’s + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. I’m guessing the nomenclature has something to do with the influx of Disney on Broadway or some stiff-lipped estate managers over at the R+H office wanting to preserve the integrity of this 1957 made-for-television special.
While I can’t offer up my personal opinion, there are plenty of juicy bites from my fellow reviewers around town. Here’s what they had to say…
“Like the reinvented cartoon fairy-tale heroines of the past several decades, from Disney’s Little Mermaid onward, this Cinderella is no passive damsel waiting for a rescuing knight. She takes charge of her destiny, so much so that she doesn’t lose that glass slipper; she hands it to the prince. It’s a conscious choice, see; she controls her narrative. And, by the way, the prince must undergo a similar process of re-education, which will allow him to conquer his self-doubts and introduce democracy to his kingdom.” The New York Times
“Watch out, Wicked witches, here comes Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, a heavyweight contender for those precious audiences of little girls who attend the theater in princess gowns and glittery tiaras – faithful theatergoers who make regular pilgrimages to their beloved shows and get their mothers to buy them lotsa stuff at intermission.” Variety
“The kids in the audience may not be swayed by this stuff, or by the clunky plot about the quest for democracy — a bore for older folks, too. What does work for everybody is the eye candy of Anna Louizos’ oversize sets, which nicely fill the Broadway Theatre’s vast stage, and William Ivey Long’s sensational costumes — a couple of sleight-of-hand changes literally stop the show. And of course there’s the unimpeachable score, which features several songs that had 56 years to turn into earworms, like “Stepsister’s Lament,” revived with hilarious verve by Harada (the quiet stage manager in “Smash”).” New York Post
“The fundamental problem with Douglas Carter Beane’s perplexing, wholly unromantic and mostly laugh-free new book for this Broadway Cinderella — which turns the heroine into a social reformer like a better-looking Jane Addams, the stepsisters (Marla Mindelle and Ann Harada) into sympathetic, wounded creatures of thwarted desire, and Prince Charming (Santino Fontana) into a myopic dunce who needs his eyes opened to the poverty of his people — is that it denies the audience the pleasure of instant reversals of fortune. Sure, these matters are tricky. We no longer define great fortune by whom one manages to marry, and rightly so. But if nobody wanted to see Cinderella as it’s generally and vaguely understood, nobody would have been in the house at the opening Sunday night, and this show would not have been grossing more than $1 million a week during previews.” Chicago Tribune