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Rodgers & Hammerstein’s "Cinderella" Is Revived at the Broadway Theatre
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Rodgers & Hammerstein’s "Cinderella" Is Revived at the Broadway Theatre

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Robyn Goodman, Jill Furman, Stephen Kocis
et al.
Present:

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s
Cinderella
(Cinderella Website)

Original Book by Oscar Hammerstein II
New Book by Douglas Carter Bean
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II

At the
Broadway Theatre
1681 Broadway at 53rd Street
NY, NY
212.239.6200

Starring:
Laura Osnes, Santino Fontana
Peter Bartlett, Ann Harada, Greg Hildreth
Marla Mindelle, Phumzile Sojola
Harriet Harris, Victoria Clark

And
An Ensemble of Actors/Singers/Dancers

Directed by Mark Brokaw
Choreography by Josh Rhodes
Orchestrations: Danny Troob
Music Adaptation, Supervision, Arrangements:
David Chase
Scenic Design: Anna Louizos
Costume Design: William Ivey Long
Lighting Design: Kenneth Posner
Sound Design: Nevin Steinberg
Hair and Wig Design: Paul Huntley
Music Director/Conductor: Andy Einhorn
Music Coordinator: Howard Joines
Casting: Cindy Tolan, Adam Caldwell
Press: Sam Rudy Media Relations
Production Stage Manager: Ira Mont
Technical Supervision: Hudson Theatrical Associates
Fight Director: Thomas Schall
Company Manager: Brig Berney
General Management: Richards/Climan, Inc.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 21, 2013 Matinee


I and my nine year-old niece found this revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella to be one of the most enjoyable and enchanting experiences together, watching any Broadway show. As longtime fans of the Disney film version of the fairytale, we were intrigued to see this 1957 musical extravaganza. The newest version at the Broadway Theatre does not disappoint. Laura Osnes, who was favorably reviewed in 2011 in Bonnie & Clyde and Anything Goes, is made for the role of the eternally optimistic and romantic Cinderella. There’s no need to re-hash this plot. Not a soul exists who doesn’t know about her step-mother and step-sisters and fairy godmother and lost glass slipper. In this Broadway version, with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane, who also wrote the new play, The Nance, Cinderella is less vulnerable, more vibrant, and quite imposing. In fact, Ms. Osnes comes across as even more imposing than the Prince and all the female leads combined. One would immediately want her to have your back, should you be looking for a new lifestyle. Cinderella became master of her own fate, looking gorgeous and silky at the same time.

Cinderella’s stepmother, Madame (Harriet Harris), isn’t as sinister or craggily as the Disney version, but rather a zaftig, campy, seasoned diva. The two step-sisters, Gabrielle (Marla Mindelle) and Charlotte (Ann Harada), are not evil and sadistic, but, instead emotionally needy (Gabrielle adores the liberal town crier, a “left wing” political upstart) and lusty in their own way. Jean-Michel (Greg Hildreth), that liberal savior of the town’s impoverished, is equally enamored of Charlotte and eager to overthrow Sebastian (a marvelously devious Peter Bartlett), the Prince’s regal advisor and mentor, who schemes to rob the kingdom’s citizenry of every last cent, through trick paperwork, signed by Topher, the Prince (Santino Fontana). Mr. Fontana, also reviewed in 2011 in Sons of the Prophet and The Importance of Being Earnest, is perfectly cast here as the lonely, yearning Prince, who’s made to believe that a royal wedding will keep the lowly public from staging a coup. Jean-Michel serves as a bridge character, who draws Cinderella and her step-sister Charlotte into an obsession with social justice. Mr. Fontana sweeps Cinderella off her feet and glass slipper, as predicted, but, here, the slipper is placed into his gloved hand, rather than having it tumble down the stairs. This Cinderella is so goal-oriented that she declares to the speechless Prince, when the glass slipper, in a later scene, fits her tiny foot, “Is marriage still on the table?”

Victoria Clark, who was resplendent in this same theater in Sister Act, has a surprisingly subdued role here as Marie, the Fairy Godmother. But, thanks to William Ivey Long’s incredulous, instantly-changing costumes, Ms. Clark goes from rags to silk in seconds, as does Cinderella. In fact, in the middle of a song, with just an arm offstage, Cinderella becomes ready for the Royal Ball, as exterior material hides itself inside interior material, and suddenly she’s all ruffles and taffeta, with a gleaming tiara. The coach and horsemen, as well, appear in thin air, much like the Disney film, only before our eyes, thanks to Anna Louizos’ magical scenery, in collaboration with Mr. Ivey Long and his crew. I would have loved to see this show as it developed, as the trompe l’oeil costuming and split-second set shifts must have been miraculous on their initial success. Kenneth Posner’s lighting and Nevin Steinberg’s sound were bright, crisp, and embracing. Mark Brokaw directed to bring out some fantasy forest creatures into lifelike, surreal dialogues, that intersected with the fairytale plot. He also succeeded in maximizing the chemistry of Prince Topher and Cinderella, throughout the production. Josh Rhodes’ choreography was intrinsic to the gestalt of this show, with the ballroom waltzes effervescent, sophisticated, and billowy. Danny Troob’s orchestrations, David Chase’s arrangements, and Andy Einhorn’s conducting added pizzazz and panache to the experience.

Also adding panache to the experience was a live, on-stage proposal, similar to those at the Rockefeller Center skating rink. Mr. Fontana, after the final curtain, hushed the audience and asked for two audience members in seats …to come to the stage for a raffle prize. Then he handed the microphone to the prospective groom. As the prospective bride nodded yes, the house erupted in applause. My nine year-old niece’s jaw dropped with excitement. As for the adults, we were relieved at the result.



Santino Fontana and Laura Osnes
in "Cinderella"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg



For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net