Did you know that Cinderella's real name was Ella and that she was tagged Cinderalla by her mean stepmother because she spent so much time sweeping up cinders and cooking near the fireplace?
Okay, so maybe you knew that.
But did you know that Rodgers and Hammerstein created a musical version of Cinderella starring Julie Andrews? Yes, that was in 1957 (seven years after the hugely successful Disney animated film) but the show never appeared on Broadway. Rather, it was televised on CBS and it remains the only musical that R&H ever made for TV. This TV production was produced again in 1965 starring Leslie Ann Warren and yet again in 1997 starring Brandy Norwood. Both TV remakes added songs from other R&H musicals.
But during all this time, though Rodger's and Hammerstein's Cinderella was occasionally performed on stage from time to time it never played on the Great White Way.
Never, until now.
With a new book by Douglas Carter Beane (adapted from the original by Oscar Hammerstein) and a few songs dropped from Oklahoma and South Pacific, a lush, full-scale production of Cinderella has opened at the Broadway Theater and it's drawing large and enthusiastic crowds.
In this Cinderella you will see the magic of Broadway without pyrotechnics, hydraulic lifts, lasers, strobe lights or other new-age technical wizardry. This is a big, old-fashioned, richly orchestrated Broadway musical with up-to-the-minute appeal for the entire family. And the magic is that much more seductive because it doesn't rely on gadgetry.
Did we say this is symphonically superb?
Indeed it is, for you shall be treated to the sound of a full Broadway orchestra -- a sound worthy of Rodgers and Hammerstein. And you will also hear great choral singing the likes of which you simply don't hear anymore.
And the costumes by William Ivey Long alone are worth the price of admission. Surely, this is the pinnacle for this renowned costumer's career and worthy of the Tony Award that he rightly won.
This show has a big, hugely competent cast all-around.
But we still thought that Mark Brokaw's direction could have been a bit tighter and Josh Rhodes' choreography more inventive and more precise. For the record, this is only Brokaw's second Broadway musical outing. So, we'll take all that into account.
Also, we wouldn't have you believe that this is R&H's best score ever -- hardly. But even less-than-best R&H is better than most of what's being offered today. Standout numbers include Impossible and Ten Minutes Ago.
This is a beautiful, extravagant show of high production values produced in one of Broadway's grandest, prettiest theaters. It's what you expect when you hear "Broadway"-- and though a national tour is planned it's a stretch to expect that it will match this. The place and the time to see it is here and now.
And what a joy it was to see so many children enjoying live theater -- and all very, very attentive we might add.
Yes, Cinderella captivated them -- and it will charm you as well!