The interesting thing about this production of Cinderella is that it is very different from the tv versions and all of those productions that have been performed before. While the main story is still intact, this production includes an updated book by Douglas Carter Beane as well as including songs that Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote for but that were cut from other musicals and movies. This updated book provides multiple layers to almost all of the characters in the show, turning them from what were previously fairly one dimensional and almost stereotypical characters into more realistic ones. Beane's book also includes a good amount of humor as well.
|Santino Fontana and Laura Osnes|
As Cinderella, Laura Osnes once again proves her keen ability to tackle a Broadway leading role. After turns as the female lead in both Bonnie and Clyde and in the replacement cast of the recent revival of South Pacific, Osnes has found another role that she easily makes her own. I believe this is the role that will allow her to have a spectacular Broadway career and I wouldn't be surprised to see another Tony nomination come her way for her performance. Her natural ease at handling the part and not come across as too saccharine or sweet is as much a tribute to her abilities as it is to Beane's updated book.
Beane has beefed up the part of Cinderella's fairy god mother into a more commanding role, one which provides Victoria Clark two very different characters to play, both of which she expertly handles. Her connection with Osnes is also lovely and her soaring ballad in act two, "There's Music in You" is a nice touch that really rounds out the part. As Cinderella's wicked step mother, Harriet Harris once again shows why she is the perfect comic foil, venomous when necessary, adept at tackling and landing any joke she's given but also perfectly suited to deliver a song when required.
|Ann Harada, center, and the female ensemble|
Direction by Mark Brokaw is perfect, with the show moving along at a fast paced but also with plenty of times that it slows down when required. Josh Rhodes provides a nice and varied amount of choreography including some spectacular dance sequences at the ball where he also ensures that Fontana and Osnes are front and center, including several moments of Fontana lifting and twirling Osnes in tune with the ensemble.
I also really liked Beane's updated book and how he managed to tweak a few things that we all take for granted in this fairly tale especially with how Cinderella leaves behind the glass slipper. As far as the songs that have been added to this production, "Loneliness of Evening" and "Now is the Time" were both cut from South Pacific and "There's Music in You" was written for the film Main Street to Broadway and also included in the 1997 tv version of Cinderella that starred Brandy and Whitney Houston.
Creative aspects of the show are simply amazing with truly magical costumes by William Ivey Long, including several that transform into other costumes and an inventive and creative set design by Anna Louizos that includes a multitude of trees that move and set pieces that rotate. The lighting design by Ken Posner is extremely effective in seamlessly moving us from one locale to another as well as in perfectly portraying various times of day. The magical moments, of which there are many, are masterly handled and result in many gasps and rounds of applause from the audience.
I believe this show is gonna be a big hit, not only with families and young theatre goers but with those of us that appreciate a fresh and updated take on an old favorite and anyone who is thrilled by the magic that can happen in the theatre. Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella officially opens next week on March 3rd.
Official Show Site
Macy's Thanksgiving Parade 2012 Performance:
"Ten Minutes Ago" performance on Fox News:
Broadway.com behind the scenes: