“Cinderella” is perhaps the most classic fairy tale that young children grow up reading. The story has been reworked many times by Walt Disney, Stephen Sondheim and others. The Broadway production has a new plot with twists and turns that stray from the familiar narrative and create some surprisingly new elements. Without giving too much away, you should expect new characters, quite different types of step-sisters and a fairy godmother with a different background (reminiscent of “Sweeney Todd”). There is not only a ball but a banquet as well. There is even a catch to the traditional glass slipper portion of the story.
Let’s start with the best part of the show: the set, costumes and choreography. Scenic Designer, Anna Louizos, made lovely choices at each turn. We move from the woods, to the palace, to the town and into Cinderella’s home. William Ivey Long won a Tony Award for the costumes in this show. During the ball and banquet scenes, the women wore puffy gowns which were stunning. Each a different color, with petticoats and beautiful high heels. The men wore matching suits with tailcoats. When we meet the townspeople, their clothing was more tattered and torn which paralleled how poor they were. One choice that was somewhat odd was one of Cinderella’s dresses was gold. It may cause you to think, are we in the wrong story? She looked exactly like Belle from “Beauty and the Beast”. Choreographer, Josh Rhodes, utilized the ensemble very well; their dance breaks with added acrobatics were a joy to watch.
As for the cast, I was mixed. Santino Fontana played Prince Topher. For whatever reason, the writer chose to create a new persona for him and made him the comic relief. He was giggling throughout and made fun of what we ordinarily think a prince should be. When he sang, he sounded great but it was as if the role was a joke. Laura Osnes played Ella. I’ve seen her in a few shows and every time I think the same thing. She has a beautifully clear voice and the tone of a trained musical theater professional, but it is so precise that it is predictable. Gentle notes, articulation and sound but there is no spark for me. I wish there was more pizazz but alas, not this time. The night I saw the play, the step-sister Gabrielle was played by Stephanie Gibson. She was sweet, in character and looked natural on stage. The fairy godmother (Victoria Clark) and Step-mother (Harriet Harris) were superb actresses with lovely voices. The largest shock was Jean-Michel played by Greg Hildreth. His billowing hand gestures, large motions and over acting were laughable. It’s fine to ham things up a bit on stage from time to time but this was too much.
Overall, the show was entertaining, light hearted and would be a fun one to bring kids to. It was very comedic and is worth seeing for the set and costumes alone. For more information on this production take a look at their website: http://cinderellaonbroadway.com
*Side note: to the gentleman sitting a few rows in front of me taking pictures during the second act, not cool. You should be thankful I didn’t go Patti Lupone on you. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WruzPfJ9Rys