Cinderella Review Roundup

Laura Osnes and
Santino Fontana

The Broadway premiere of the 1957 TV musical Cinderella, based on the fairy tale “Cendrillon” by Charles Perrault, has opened to mixed reviews. The creative team includes Douglas Carter Beane (book), Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics), Richard Rodgers (music), Mark Brokaw (direction), Josh Rhodes (choreography), Danny Troob (orchestrations), David Chase (music arrangements), Anna Louizos (sets), William Ivey Long (costumes), Kenneth Posner (lights), Nevin Steinberg (sound), and Paul Huntley (hair). The cast includes Laura Osnes (Ella), Santino Fontana (Prince Topher), Peter Bartlett (Sebastian), Ann Harada (Charlotte), Greg Hildreth (Jean-Michel), Marla Mindelle (Gabrielle), Phumzile Sojola (Lord Pinkleton), Harriet Harris (Madame), and Victoria Clark (Marie).

Ben Brantley (N.Y. Times): This Cinderella wants to be reassuringly old-fashioned and refreshingly irreverent, sentimental and snarky, sincere and ironic, all at once. … There’s been a whole lot of fiddling with the plot too to give it politically progressive substance and those mandatory messages about self-esteem and self-empowerment. … Of course no one’s really going to Cinderella for its politics. They go for the songs … and, oh yes, the dresses, which have been left to the capable and industrious hands of William Ivey Long. The showstoppers in this version aren’t the songs so much as those instant costume changes from rags to riches by our girl Cindy.

Brian Scott Lipton (Theater Mania): The more-is-more approach of Mark Brokaw’s 2½-hour production often makes this first-ever Broadway rendition of the show far harder to fall in love with than its adorable heroine. … What will enchant audiences of all ages, thankfully, is the sweeping, athletic choreography of Josh Rhodes, lovingly executed by a fine ensemble outfitted in William Ivey Long’s colorful and clever costumes. … This Cinderella too often resembles the kind of overstuffed, over-intellectualized sandwiches found in trendy Tribeca eateries – they sound great on the menu, but once they arrive on the plate, you realize they’re far less appetizing than imagined.

David Rooney (Hollywood Reporter): Cinderella gets off to a halting start and takes some questionable detours. But this pleasurable confection overcomes its conceptual missteps. … Without exception, this is a gorgeously sung production. That makes it easy to forgive the show’s flaws. … The feeling remains that, much like the glass slipper on all those wannabe princesses, the material is an imperfect fit for Beane’s snappy irreverence. But under the gently guiding hand of director Brokaw, this Cinderella makeover nonetheless has enough magic on tap to deliver crowd-pleasing family entertainment.

Marilyn Stasio (Variety): The cheeky humor of Beane’s book comes from imposing modern sensibilities (and contemporary lingo) on timeless storybook figures. … But all these clever alterations radically change the story we all grew with, the tale about how true love rescues a callously mistreated girl from persecution. … Ella is no longer even the hero of her own fairytale. By introducing all those politically correct social issues, Beane has effectively shifted the focus of the story to the Prince, who has fallen down on the job of governing his kingdom. … Cinderella has become a secondary character in a story about a guy who mans up and resolves his identity crisis.

Terry Teachout (Wall St. Journal): The show itself is a gem, a compact operetta with a radiant score, and virtually every aspect of this production is right on target, starting with Laura Osnes. … So what went wrong? Douglas Carter Beane. … It doesn’t help that Mark Brokaw, the director, seems to have told everyone in the cast but Ms. Osnes to camp it up. … Ms. Osnes, a fine singer and a very good dancer, makes the most of Josh Rhodes’s well-wrought choreography and looks great in William Ivey Long’s fancy costumes. … You’ve got a musical that’s resplendent whenever the members of the cast are singing and repellent whenever they stop singing and start talking.

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